Well done, good and faithful servant
The Parable of the Talents
So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Rom. 12:4). So did St. Paul describe the Church, in an image full of significance, and well worth unpacking. To begin with, it describes the unity of the Church – an organic unity, not one that is mechanical, as a legal corporation, but one that moves, breathes and grows with the Holy Spirit.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all (Eph. 4:4-6)
Yet while the Church is a unity, it is not a uniformity. Like the body, it has various parts, and all have their role to play.
If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. (I Cor. 12:15)
St. Paul explained to the Corinthians that the parts of the body were symbolic of the various gifts, skills and aptitudes that give such variety and color to our life in Christ. These diverse gifts have one overarching purpose.
To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).
Many, when they hear the term ‘ministry,’ think of those who are ordained priesthood. Yet that is only part of its meaning. For anyone who offers his gifts to the Church for Her edification is indeed offering his or her ministry, so that a variety of services may be offered for the common good.
These gifts are inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is why, in his Parable of the Talents told in the Gospel of Matthew (and the similar Parable of the Pounds found in the Gospel of Luke), Jesus warns against hiding them under a bushel, instead of ‘investing’ them. In Jesus’s day, a ‘talent’ referred to a sum of money. That’s still applicable today; those of us who are blessed with a comfortable income should take heed of our commitment to share it for the workings of Christ’s Church. But so is the use of the word ‘talent’ in its expanded sense in English, that is, that ability to contribute in our own special way.
The one who hides away the talents given him in a hole in the ground is condemned by this master is called slothful, even wicked. In fact, even what he had was taken from him. But those who took a risk with those talents, not only saw them grow, but were also praised.
Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master. (Matt. 25:23).