Understanding The Parable of the Talents–What Does It Mean For Us?

This past Sunday, The Parable of The Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)  was read as the Gospel reading at Mass. As you may remember, this is the story in which “The Master” entrusts his servants with his property. One servant is given five talents. The second is given two. The third is given one.

The servants who received five and two talents respectively, doubled what they were given and pleased their master. The servant who received one talent buried it and only returned what he was given, which caused the master to punish the servant.

Over the years, I’ve heard many comments from people who are confused by this parable. Not only do they feel that the servants are being treated unfairly at the outset, but they are often disturbed by what a jerk “the Master,” who “reaps where he did not sow and gathers where he scattered no seed” appears to be.

Here are my thoughts, I hope it helps:

1. The Master who “reaps where he did not sow, and gathers where he scattered no seed,” is not a jerk.  He is God. God harvests salvation from the fields of the Devil (i.e., the fallen world). God brings good out of difficult situations. He reclaims what sin has worked to destroy.

2. The talents are a metaphor for grace (they are NOT merely abilities or money). The different sums are a sign of the receptivity to grace of each of the servants. The message here indicates: No matter how much we are open to receiving God’s grace, he gives us as much as we are willing and able to receive.

3. When the servants cooperated with grace, they saw the work of grace expand exponentially.

4. The third servant did not do anything with the grace he had been given because, literally, he “was afraid.” Fear separates us from grace.  Think about it.  Grace is the presence of God.  God is love and “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). 

The third servant did not cooperate with grace. Instead of clinging to God, he clung to his fear. Ultimately, the third servant separated himself from God by choosing to focus on his limitations over God’s Providence.

5. Grace will not be thwarted. Even when we resist or reject God, he finds ways around our resistance and redistributes it to those who will receive it and cooperate with it.  God’s will will be done!

Superficially, this seems like a harsh parable but ultimately, it is about the superabundance of grace, the generosity of God, and the fact that nothing–not even our fears of our own limitations–can stop grace from building the Kingdom.

An Attitude of Gratitude

With all of the nasty, cruel, and evil things going on in our world today, one might ask how it is even possible to see the good in all of it. Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” talks about how gratitude, being thankful for even the smallest things, can completely change your outlook and light up the darkness.

Forgiveness at Work

Forgiveness is hard – especially in the workplace – but that doesn’t make it any less important. Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” explores the beauty and benefits of forgiving ones coworkers, superiors, and subordinates.

Gossip in Reverse

Negativity can be toxic at work, but positivity can combat a lot of evils, even gossip! Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” explores the good that can come from positivity in the workplace.

Handling Conflict

We’ve all experienced conflict in the workplace, but there are often ways we can use conflict to better ourselves. Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” helps us to understand how we can use conflict to make us holier people.

Humility and Being a Team Player

We all have that one co-worker or client who we just can’t seem to get along with. But our dealings with that person might be an opportunity to grow in humility. Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” explains how to achieve humility without the other guy walking all over you.

Maximizing Value

Good customer service is more than just an important business technique. It’s also a Catholic obligation! Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” reveals that, by serving others in the workplace, we serve God as well.

Overcoming Challenges

The workplace is often full of challenges and stressful situations, but you should never let them beat you. Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” explains how to take mastery over those situations by turning them over to God.

Patience at Work

Patience and trust in the Lord are hard virtues to live out, but they’re even harder to live out in a stressful environment, and all the more so for a long period of time. And yet, the trials and tribulations offer opportunities that should not be ignored. Kevin Lowry, author of “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” explains the point behind the times when patience and trust in the Lord are at their most difficult.