It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Entrusted Talents, a Reflection on Matthew 25:14-30

I think that I always interpreted the word "talent" in this parable as meaning "talent." I mean although I understood that Matthew was talking about money, I just assumed that he had an allegorical intent. So, I was surprised to read in Boring & Craddock that the use of the term "talent" came into the English language in the Middle Ages. Matthew was talking about money. I find that I can't let go of the allegorical meaning anyway.

Yet, I am able to read the term as including money. And it's a lot of money. A talent would have taken a laborer fifteen years to earn.

Can we sympathize with that third slave? His master had entrusted him with an amount of wealth that he would never have been able to accumulate on his own. Shouldn't he be careful?

How willing are we to restrict our actions and speech because we fear the cost of saying and doing something that will offend our financial supporters?

Ann Weems, in her Kneeling in Jerusalem, begins the poem "Stewardship,"
The pew preached to the pulpit, all the while clutching its checkbook
If the boat is rocked, it is the poor who will be drowned
(thanks to Resources for Preaching and Worship, Year A, edited by Ward and Wild, for the Weems reference.

Lectio Divina
: Matthew 25:18

The master comes back and rewards the slaves who had put his money to risk. "You've done so well that I'm going to trust you with even more," he tells them.

What Matthew does not tell us is what the result would have been if the two risk-takers had lost all their master's money. Are they being rewarded for being successful or for being willing to try?

How do we define successful, anyway?

On the other hand, some commentators read this parable as encouragement for the Christians who were surprised that Jesus had not already come back. "What should we do while we are waiting for his return?" they asked. This parable indicates that using the resources entrusted to them by their Lord is the appropriate action for Christians.

Lectio Divina: Matthew 25:23

This part of Matthew's gospel is very harsh: those who have a lot will get even more; those who don't have much, will lose even the little that they have. That may be the way that bankers decide who should get the loan that will enable a business to expand, but how do we interpret it to be the way God decides which of us receives gifts?

It may be comforting to read ahead to verses 31-46 at this point.

But, today, we are reading verses 24-30:

Prudence is punished.

Isn't prudence a virtue?

Prudence is punished.

Or, is it cowardice that is being punished? Or, is it a lack of trust in the Master?

Lectio Divina: Psalm 90:1-6

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