I was just reflecting on the parable of talents, and I take the one from Luke 19:11–27. I was just looking at the parable to see what the parable tells about the person called Jesus.
Each were given one talent (mina= about three months’ wages). One made 10 more, another 5 more. Third didn’t do anything. Probably the third was punished for his opinions about the master and corresponding inaction.
Two tags that could be given to the third person are
- He behaved like a guard. (I am given something, I will look after it and give back as it is)
This is a mentality which Jesus criticizes. We are not called to be guards of our gifts, but caretakers or entrepreneurs, ready to take risks with those gifts/talents.
(A question that aroused in my mind was, what Jesus would have done to a person who invested his money, but didn’t make sufficient returns. But I think, the question is sensible from a technological mindset, but not from a mindset of the kingdom of God. Any risk with my gifts is a work with the Holy Spirit, and it is always fruitful)
A good example of the theme, golden mean of Aristotle could be seen here; he would say virtue lies between two vices. Yes, the virtue of shepherding (good entrepreneurs/care-takers) lies between the vices called manipulators (doing as I wish) or guards (not doing anything, just keeping it safe).
2. He kept in laid away in a piece of cloth (St Mathew’s gospel would say, he hid in the ground). I can imagine atleast three things that are buried in the ground; the seeds (which grows into a plant, and that is not the case here), some treasures (which is secretive/of wrong means and I don’t want others to know) or dead bodies.
Jesus is probably criticizing the mentality to live the life as if we are dead (Jesus came to give life in its fullness). That definitely happens as we bury the gifts.
Philosophers would speak of the giver being present in the gifts. It is all the more true with the gifts of Jesus. He is present with us in all the gifts. Being like the first and second person is, being-shepherds of the gift and living life (as if you are alive). The best example for all these is Jesus himself; he lived life fully (had friends, ate with friends, enjoyed life, encouraged others, and finally died for others), and he was a shepherd of his gifts (used them for empowering, encouraging and saving people).
Some examples from our life situations could be,
- A teacher/parent encouraging the children to flourish.
- An academician using his skills to bring sustainable development accessible to all.
- A social worker who is not just giving the people fish to eat, but teaching them to catch fish.
- My favourite… A theologian seeing the treasure and mystery with which s/he works not as a archaeological show-piece to be protected or preserved, but unraveling the life-giving spirit of it by helping in the process of interpretations for our times.