Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30 tells the parable of the Master who went away and gave his three slaves different amounts of talents (a kind of money) to manage. When he returned, two of the slaves had invested wisely, and their investment increased, but the third slave buried his talent in the ground and had no increase to show. The Master was furious with the last slave and had him thrown into “outer darkness.”

This parable is the last one Jesus told before He spoke of the final judgment (Mt 25:31ff) and then was arrested, tried, and was crucified. Most of the parables are about the kingdom of God, which was the main theme of Jesus’ teaching during His public ministry. The lesson of this parable is surely that God expects His followers to plan ahead and be productive in bringing in His (God’s) kingdom and making it grow. He said that His disciples are to be the salt of the earth (preservatives) and the light of the world (Isa 49:6) meaning that we are to be active in bringing in the kingdom of God in the parts of the world where we find ourselves (“bloom where you’re planted”).

As a royal priesthood, His followers are to shine light into a dark world to continue the work of the Lord to inaugurate His kingdom in terms of God’s justice, freedom, beauty, peace, and, above all, rescuing love to the world. This is what Paul is saying about holiness in Phil 2:14-16. As disciples of Jesus we are to reflect God’s light into the world in terms of mission and reflect the praises of the world back to God in worship. Worship and mission together are the way we are to help inaugurate the kingdom of God for which Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, became incarnate and gave His life for the world.

Jesus’ parable indicates that those who invest themselves in the Master’s project successfully will receive the accolade, “well done, good and trustworthy servant,” while those who do not will be called wicked and lazy and will receive weeping and gnashing of teeth. This challenge by Jesus to His followers is not so much a moral issue as it is a matter of recognizing that our Christian vocation is being active and effective in launching God’s kingdom by the way we live our lives. This seems to be what Ephesians 4 and 5 are aiming at.

The whole creation is standing on tiptoe waiting for the revealing of the sons of God (Rm 8:19) so that it can be renewed as God intended it to be in the beginning before the Fall. This is what the kingdom of God is all about. Most of the world is spiritually dead in its sins and trespasses (Eph 2:1) or, to use another metaphor, is in exile awaiting the new exodus home that Jesus’ Passover meal promises. Jesus came to initiate the kingdom by representing the return of YHWH (like the Master in the parable) to His people to enable them to have ears to hear and eyes to see what YHWH wants to accomplish through His Son, Jesus, and His disciples.

The kingdom is to be characterized by community, love, forgiveness, humility, patience, and chastity with His disciples leading the way in making this vision a reality. After telling the parable and describing the judgment to come, Jesus went to the cross to overcome the power of the evil one so that God’s kingdom could be born in the lives of His disciples through the Holy Spirit.

Memory Verse: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1 Pet 3:15-16).