THE THIRD SERVANT DUG A HOLE TO HIDE HIS TALENT
(A biblical reflection on the 33rd ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 15 November 2020)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:14-30
First Reading: Proverbs 31:10-13,19-20,30-31; Psalms: Psalm 128:1-5; Second Reading: 1Thessalonians 5:1-6
The Scripture Text
“For is will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talent made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘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.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘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.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’(Matthew 25:14-30 RSV)
The servant who dug a hole to hide his talent offers a very true to life picture of how undeveloped talent makes a person very negative. Not alone does he return no profit to the master but he manages to shift the blame from himself to the master. “Master, I knew you to be a hard man ……” He so twists the situation about that he forgets how the master trusted in him and invested in him: all he chooses to remember are the bad things that others were saying about him.
We dig a hole and try to bury part of ourselves whenever we do not come to terms with our failings, or accept our experiences truthfully or when bitterness distorts our memories. The repressed or buried part of us turns foul and comes up in various forms of negativity.
One common form of negative energy is the tendency to offload our personal responsibility by shifting the blame to others; like that servant trying to blame the master for his own lack of profit.
Another form of negative energy is cynicism. Cynicism flows out of a stagnant pool of life. Waters stagnate when there is no fresh inflow and no corresponding outflow. A stagnant life results when there is no healthy intellectual stimulation or spiritual inspiration. Yet there can be hours spent every day in television passivity or waste of brain power on useless curiosities and vapid reading. The master rightly accused his unprofitable servant of laziness. The unproductive life and stagnant mind have already begun to experience that hell where all is dark ad there are tears of frustration and the angry sound of grinding teeth.
This darkened mind is unreceptive to new initiatives or words of light but it avidly absorbs every tatty little detail of scandal just like the way the unprofitable servant latched on to the bad things that were being said about his master. As we have noted more than once, light hurts the sore eye and goodness is very threatening to those who are insecure in their identity.
You will hear the grinding of teeth in that voice which acquires new energy only to scoff at the efforts of others or to gloat over any failure or departure from the ministry. The angry mind digs a hole which becomes a cesspool of stagnant water, Not only does it do no good itself but it will poison all that drink of it. But whenever the lake of life is stimulated by a healthy inflow and expressed in a productive outflow, the waters are life-giving. Good investments produce more. “to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance” (Matthew 25:29).
That’s the way it is in life. The batteries of life are charged by being used: they lose the charge if the generator is not switched on. Physical exercise increases our capacity to take on more. The jogger is prepared to suffer momentary tiredness for he knows that by this effort he is generating more energy. By contrast, lack of physical exercise causes muscular atrophy, principally of the vital heart muscle.
Intellectual stimulation does not exhaust the mind but produces a person who is alert and attentive in all spheres of life. The stimulated mind never experience the heavy hand of boredom which is an off-shoot of television passivity. The same principle of growth applies to the spiritual life.
God invests in us, not to see His talent buried, not to hear us off-loading our own responsibility by blaming others, not to see us cringe helplessly and uselessly in fear. His desire is to be able one day to con gratulate us on a job well done and reward us with the happiness of heaven.
(Main Source: Silvester O’Flynn OFMCap., The Good News of Matthew’s Year, pages 264-268.)
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for all the gifts You have given me. Help me to be aware of these gifts, that I may surrender them to You and use them cheerfully and generously to build up Your Kingdom. Amen.
Jakarta, 14 November 2020
A Christian Pilgrim