Week of Proper 16: Saturday, Year 2   5 comments

Above:  Parable of the Talents Woodcut, 1712

The Imperative of Responsible Action

AUGUST 27, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Take  yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called:  how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families?  No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen–those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.  The human race has nothing to boast about to God, but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom.  As scripture says:

if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.

Psalm 33:12-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!

happy the people he has chosen to be his own!

13 The LORD looks down from heaven,

and beholds all the people in the world.

14 From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze

on all who dwell on the earth.

15 He fashions all the hearts of them

and understands all their works.

16 There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army;

a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.

17 The horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

for all its strength it cannot save.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him,

on those who wait upon his love,

19 To pluck their lives from death,

and to feed them in time of famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

21 Indeed, our heart rejoices in him,

for in his holy name we put our trust.

22 Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us,

as we have put our trust in you.

Matthew 25:14-30 (The Jerusalem Bible):

It [the kingdom of heaven] is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to a third one; each in proportion to his ability.  Then he set out.  The man who had received five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more.  The man who had received two made two more in the same way.  But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.  Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them.  The man who had received five talents came forward bringing five more.


he said,

you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more I have made.

His master said to him,

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown that you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.

Next the man with two talents came forward.


he said,

you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.

His master said to him,

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.

Last came forward the man who had the one talent.


said he,

I had heard that you were a hard man, reaping where you had not sown and gathering where you had not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground.  Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.

But his master answered him,

You wicked and lazy servant!  So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered?  Well then, you should deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest.  So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents.  For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.


The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


I have covered the Parable of the Talents in the Year 1 counterpart to this post.  What follows will duplicate much of that content, but I refer you, O reader, to that post, for my full comments on that parable.

The New Interpreter’s Bible, in Volume VIII, on page 453, places the Parable of the Talents in the context not only of Chapter 25 but within the whole of the Gospel of Matthew.  (For the full analysis, consult that page in Volume VIII.)  Said commentary ends on this note:  It speaks of

the reality of judgment and the necessity of decisions and responsible action.

The rich man in the parable was quite wealthy.  A talent was the equivalent of fifteen years of wages for a day laborer.  So the servant who received just one talent was relatively wealthy, at least for a time.  He was an honest man, for he returned the money, down the last denarius, to his master.  Yet the two servants who showed initiative and doubled the money won praise; the overly cautious man received condemnation.  And one of the dutiful servants received more responsibility, based on his track record.

Grace begins with God and requires to act upon it.  Thus grace is free, not cheap.  This brings me to the reading from 1 Corinthians.  There God is the original actor, and

no human may glory before God.  (verse 29, The Anchor Bible)

Each servant in the Parable of the Talents had reason to glory in the trust of his master, and two of them behaved commendably.  Here, as in many other places in the Bible, money and judgment coexist.

If we take an inventory of our talents (not the monetary measure), we will recognize how much we have on trust from God.  Will we even try to make the most of them?  True, other people can help or hinder our efforts; they are responsible for their deeds.  And we are are accountable for ours.



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