Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
As students preparing for pastoral duties, Brother Joe, our Moravian tutor/warden, constantly reminded us that what God requires of us is not success but faithful service. Admittedly, this is a concept that is best grasped on the job, when faced with the capricious measures of success commonly encountered in secular life. The Gospel reading for today addresses this subject of faithfulness in the parable of the three servants, two who were faithful and one who needed an attitude adjustment.
The master in this parable, considered by many to be Jesus, entrusts three servants with varying sums of money (talents) based on his evaluation of their investing ability before leaving on a trip. This action represents incredible generosity and trust when we realize that one talent was the equivalent of several years’ wages for an ordinary servant. When the master returns and makes enquiries about the state of their investment, two of the servants, who had doubled the money, receive similar commendation for their faithfulness. They are also invited to share in the master’s joy—a gracious invitation equal to inviting humble servants to dine at the master’s table.
But what of the third servant? Questioned about his work, he resorts to disparaging statements about the master, essentially ripping to shreds the trust that had been bestowed on him. The response of the master is swift and harsh. So, what went wrong? Fear of failure, the shortcoming of this third servant, motivated him to play it safe and bury the talent that was entrusted to him.
While this parable encourages faithful service as the only true marker of a job well done, it also invites the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ to go out on a limb, to be bold and uncompromising as we labor for the Master.
Desna Henry Goulbourne, pastor, United Moravian Church
New York, New York