Homily for August 27th, 2016: Matt. 25:14-30.
The sums entrusted to each servant were huge. Our version speaks of “talents.” In Jesus’ world a talent was a sum of money, the largest there was, something like a million dollars today. This tells us something crucial about the man going on a journey. He is not a bean counter. On his return from a long absence, he praises the first two servants for doubling the sums entrusted to them.
The people hearing the story now expect that the third servant will also receive generous treatment. How shocking, therefore, to find the man not praised but rebuked as a “wicked, lazy servant.” “Out of fear,” the third servant explains, I kept your money safe. Here it is back. It is this fear which the parable condemns.
How often Jesus tells his followers, “Do not be afraid.” The master in Jesus’ parable rewards the first two servants not for the money they gained, but for their trust. He rebukes and banishes the third servant for lack of trust. The parable is about the one thing necessary: trust in the Lord who gives us his gifts not according to our deserving but according to his boundless generosity.
Do you want to be certain that your heart will never be wounded as you journey through life? Then be sure to guard your heart carefully. Never give it away, and certainly never wear your heart on your sleeve. If you do that, however, your heart will shrink. The capacity to love is not diminished through use. It grows.
“Out of fear ... I buried your talent in the ground,” the third servant says. Jesus came to cast out fear. To escape condemnation we don’t need to establish a good conduct record in some heavenly book – a row of gold stars representing our sacrifices and good works. Thinking we must do that is “not believing in the name of God’s only Son.” His name is synonymous with mercy, generosity, and love. Escaping condemnation, being saved, means one thing only: trusting him. It is as simple as that.
We don’t need to negotiate with God. We don’t need to con him into being lenient. We couldn’t do that even if we tried, for God is lenient already. He invites us to trust him. That is all.