The talents spoken of in the Gospel, Mt. 25:14 -30 were the currency of the day The Master gave a certain number of talents to three of his servants. The first and second servants made more money on what they had been given. The Master was delighted with their achievement. The Third servant did not made any money on the talent he had been given, and through fear buried it in the ground. The Master had him thrown into the darkness.
In this parable about the talents we might see something of the Father’s creative spirit in the servants who aired the talents they had been given. They let the fresh air of the creative spirit flow freely into their lives and they entered into a space where their activity bore fruit. Their gifts flourished in such a way that what they touched or worked on increased and multiplied, and their master saw them as faithful and good people. This idea led me to reflect on the fact that we are not just created by God but that we are of God, and one of the most striking godlike qualities that we have is our creative ability.
I remember being with a small community in Argentina that had no church. They celebrated the Eucharist wherever they could – in the shade of a bush, or in the field where they hoped to build their church some day. Their creativity flourished as they struggled to raise money to construct their church. They organized dances, raffles and races concerts, they cooked chickens in the open air and sold them, cooked a huge cauldron of stew over a fire and sold directly from the pot. They eventually built their church. After some years the group was looking at a video of a small poor community in another area that was celebrating Mass in an open space, buffeted by wind and dust. One of those looking at the video said ”We were like that some years ago … we have lost something.’ Others agreed with her, and they tried to figure out what they had lost. They passed comments like; ”We have lost an openness, ”the feeling of having to stretch ourselves beyond the beyond”. ”We miss the feeling that goes with taking risks.”
The remembrance of this period in the life of this community has taught me something: as they planned and worked to raise the resources to build their place of worship their creativity blossomed. Great happiness and exuberance flooded their lives. They had entered into the happiness of the Master. It was good that they reflected on their situation. They came to the conclusion that they were becoming entrenched and static. They were becoming like the talent buried in a hole in the ground. In this moment of reflection I think the creative spirit was bubbling up in them once again.
The treatment meted out to the servant who buried his talent in the ground seems very harsh. We might look at where Jesus was at this stage of his life – he is coming to the end of his life’s mission and is deeply annoyed by the leaders of his religious tradition, who had become entrenched, unable to bring forth life for the people. They could not see God as love. Fear had enveloped and constrained them. We might look again at those who took the risk of investing the talents. They represent those faithful people who have within themselves the creative love of God, the love that casts out fear. They form part of the great creative force of God himself that surges through the whole earth, urging us to go the extra mile for others, to work longer hours in an intensive care unit for Covid 19 patients, to spend tedious hours searching for a vaccine that will protect us from the virus. I Iike to think too of so many writers, musicians and artists who struggle with their own gifts and who eventually, through their words, engender happiness in themselves and in a multitude of people; these are people imbued with the Creator Spirit which is essentially the Spirit of Love. So one might say that the parable of the talents is about the Kingdom of God, the place where creative love abounds, where justice, peace and happiness flourish.
Sr. Kathleen Egan OP