Last Sunday at Mass we read the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25,14-30 and this week we’ll read it again on Wednesday as it’s found with some differences in Luke’s Gospel. It’s also found in a much shorter version in Mark 13, 34. I like this comment that came to this blog yesterday.
“The parable of the Talents I have always found hard to understand. The most common interpretation always being that we should always use the talents that God gives us and use them to glorify Him. I agree with that wholeheartedly. But I also identify with the third servant. Although his master trusted him, he didn’t really feel worthy. He was afraid. Afraid of failing. Afraid that his master’s money would be lost because of his poor investments. It’s a very human way to feel. So it was hard for me not to see a more compassionate master. Wouldn’t Jesus have forgiven his fear?”
Why is Jesus so hard on the servant with one talent? A crucial point in the parable is that the Master entrusts talents to his servants according to what they can do. He gives to each one “according to his ability,” Matthew says. God certainly doesn’t expect anyone to do what’s beyond one’s ability, but God does expect us to use what we have, to trade till he comes, to live responsibly.
This is a lazy servant, who could do something and doesn’t do it. In a subtle way he blames his Master instead of himself. I suppose we might say, he’s guilty of sloth.
Sloth doesn’t seem to be a big sin. Pride, lust, anger, envy are more notorious. But sloth brings on inertia, uncaring, non-involvement that prevents the coming of the kingdom.
St. Paul the Apostle saw it as a problem in his community at Thessalonika, it seems. “Anyone who would not work, should not eat. We hear that some of you are unruly, not keeping busy, but acting like busy-bodies. We enjoin all such, and we urge the strongly in the Lord Jesus Christ, to earn the food they eat by working quietly. You must never grow weary of doing what’s right, brothers.” 2 Thessalonians, 3, 10-13)
Sloth buries the talent God gives.