In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples the familiar parable about a man tho entrusts his possessions to his servants before going on a journey. “To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – each according to his ability.” When the man returns from his journey, he discovers that the servant to whom he gave five talents, has used them in such a manner that he has ten to return to his master. Similarly, the servant to whom he gave two, earned two more. But the third servant, fearful of taking any risks, merely buried the one talent he was given, and had only that to return to his master. The first two are rewarded by their master, while the third is severely chastised.
There are, I think, several lessons in this parable for us. First, we are all given gifts by God. Those gifts differ. And doubtless, by our human standards, some of those gifts seem better than others, and some people seem to be more gifted than others. We need to learn that any such comparisons are beside the point. The point is not that one servant got 5, another 2 and another 1. (“How unfair,” we might mutter.) The gifts I have are the gifts God has given me. I may wish I could sing like my daughter, or write poetry like my friend Frank, or compose music like my friend Gene, but none of those are my gifts. My task is simply to use the gifts I have been given to the best of my ability, and to rejoice when others do the same with the gifts they have been given.
Second, sometimes using our gifts means taking risks, moving out of our comfort zones. Each of the first two servants took a risk in investing the talents they were given. The third was afraid to take any risks and so hid the money to return to his master. We cannot grow, we cannot participate fully in God’s plan without taking some risks, without, as one commentator on this passage suggested, “stepping out in faith and watching to see God move as we trust in him.”
What are your gifts?
And what risks will you take to use them?