In one of the Sunday Gospel readings we the Lord’s parable of the talents. A certain man, going off on a long journey, summoned his servants and gave his estate into their keeping, in order that they invest it and make greater profit on it for their master. Two of the servants did as their sense of duty bid them, while the third did not wish to do anything with what the master had given him. After his return, the master commended the first two servants for their diligence, and condemned the third one in his own words and his own judgment. The Lord ended the parable with the words: “Whosoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Let us piously accept the Lord’s invitation and let us ponder the meaning of this divine parable, in order to gain spiritual profit and avoid the fate of the lazy servant. The master in this parable is God, the Creator and Provider, while the servants are all of us, human beings. The Lord gives all of us various gifts – both innate and through grace. Each person receives these gifts-talents according to his capabilities. There is not a single person who has no talents! And so we must use these gifts for our spiritual perfection. What are these talents?
Talents are different endowments, so-called innate, and sometimes material, such as: a good memory, physical endurance, excellent abilities, ancestry, education, sometimes wealth, etc.
Often we use many, if not all, of these talents only for ourselves, and for God or others. Moreover, it often happens that highly-talented people use these talents least of all for their spiritual life, and vice versa – less talented people work more diligently to make use of their talents. We often hear the following comments: “We are not apostles, nor saints, nor righteous people, we do not possess their grace…,” and with such words people try to excuse themselves for their shortage of virtues and good deeds. But do not these words of self-justification remind us of the wretched servant in the Gospel parable?
Also noteworthy is the joy with which the faithful servants report to their master. Their conscience is calm; they have fulfilled their duty to the best of their ability. They ascribe their success to their master, saying: “You have given and I have acquired…” Righteous men regard their efforts in the same manner: “Not I, but the grace of God has done this…,” says Apostle Paul.
It often happens in life that people who have been greatly endowed by the Lord will diverse talents and earthly goods do not want to use them for the glory of God. But in His parable the Lord points out the servant who had only one talent and shows that it is not a high or noble position in life that is important, but whether or not a person has fulfilled his duty faithfully. Only that point will serve to justify us at the Lord’s Judgment, and prior to that our conscience can serve as our barometer, provided we are ready to heed it
“Some people soothe themselves with the following thoughts,” says Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, “ ‘oh, I am not like that wretched servant who buried the talent he was given and did not do anything else; I, on the other hand, am doing at least something, so it does not matter that I have not fulfilled some of the commandments, have not dedicated to God some of the requisite hours or days, have used up good resources exclusively for my personal pleasure’… But you do not judge in the same way that our righteous Lord judges… It is not quantity that matters, but quality, and in your case the quality is poor. Consequently, allowing unfaithfulness in small things, you deprive yourself of the right to great things…”
The main idea of this parable is that every true believer in Christ must serve Him with all his will, all his effort. Do not volunteer for spiritual labors, but if the Lord should summon you, i.e. should provide you with such an opportunity – do not refuse it.
“Whosoever has ears to hear, let him hear,” i.e. whoever wishes to be attentive – heed these words and apply them to yourself.
Protopriest Igor Hrebinka