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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 25:14–30; cf. Luke 19:11–28]

JESUS also spoke another parable to the same effect, showing the necessity of making good use of the time and the talents confided to us.

“For even as a man going into a far country called his servants, and delivered to them his goods. To one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one; to every one according to his proper ability: and immediately he took his journey. Now, he that had received the five talents went his way and traded with the same, and gained other five. And in like manner, he that had received the two gained other two. But he that had received the one, went away, and hid his lord’s money in the earth.

“After a long time, the lord of those servants came and reckoned with them. And he that had received five talents, coming, brought other five talents, saying: ‘Lord, thou didst deliver to me five talents; behold, I have gained other five over and above.’ His lord said to him: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ ”

And to the servant who, having received two talents, came back with four talents, their lord spoke in like manner.

“But he that had received the one talent came and said: ‘Lord, I know that thou art a hard man; and, being afraid, I went and hid thy talent in the earth: behold, here thou hast that which is thine!’ Then his lord, answering, said: ‘Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I was a hard man. Thou oughtest, therefore, to have committed my money to the bankers, and, at my coming, I should have received my own with usury. Out of thy own mouth I judge thee. Take ye away, therefore, the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. For to every one that hath, shall be given, and he shall abound; but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”

In the Parable of the Talents, the man who delivered his goods to his servants is our Lord Jesus Christ. His goods are the gifts bestowed on us by Him as our Creator, and all those graces which He as our Redeemer left with us when He returned to His Father and “went into a far country”. The talents, therefore, signify life, health, memory, understanding, fortune &c. as well as faith, sanctifying and actual grace, and all means of grace, especially His own Body and Blood in the Most Blessed Sacrament. All these gifts, natural as well as supernatural, are talents given to us, of which we are to make good use. We can “trade with them” by using them for the glory of God and the salvation of our own souls.

Almighty God distributes His gifts (for they are His, and we are only His stewards) in different measure, as He pleases. He does not, therefore, require an equal return from all, but only a good will and strenuous effort to serve Him and advance His glory. “Unto whom much is given, of him (when our Lord comes to judge) much shall be required” (Luke 12:48); and it follows that of him who has received less, less will be required, though he who by trading with two talents gained other two, received the same signs of approbation as did he who had gained five more with the five entrusted to Him. Both made a good use of their gifts, and by corresponding with grace and performing good works merited an increase of grace. The reward given to the faithful servant of God is so exceeding great, that in comparison with it even the five talents appear as “few”. The just man will receive a “good measure (of reward) pressed down and shaken together” (Luke 6:38), and will have a share in the eternal joy and majesty of our Lord Jesus, whom he served faithfully on earth.

The slothful servant did not correspond with grace and made no use of it, and used his natural gifts only in the service of the world. His faith was a dead faith, without love and without zeal. He excused himself by pleading that Almighty God was “hard”, that His commandments were too difficult to keep, and that He required what it was impossible to give. His harangue and excuses, however, profited him nothing, because the very fact of his knowing that God’s judgments are severe, ought to have made him exert himself to keep His laws. If he had corresponded with the grace he had received, he would have merited further grace, and would have been praised and rewarded. But he was slothful, did not profit by grace, and thus lost what grace he had (as we see lukewarm Christians lose even the gift of faith), and was thrust out of the kingdom of grace into the exterior darkness of hell.

The chief lessons to be learnt from this parable are as follows:

1. Faith alone does not suffice for salvation, which must be won by good works.

2. At the judgment every Christian will have to give an account of the use he has made of his natural and supernatural gifts. The slothful servant was called wicked and was condemned, simply because he left undone that which he ought to have done.

3. God is our Lord and Master, and we are His servants. He is a most gracious Lord, for He gives His servants more and more grace as they need it, and rewards them with everlasting happiness.

Almsgiving. The poor are God’s bankers. Alms are a safe investment and bring in the highest interest, for God rewards them with an eternal recompense.

APPLICATION. Everything you have is a gift of God, and a talent committed to your charge. Even your good works are not your own, because without God’s grace you can do nothing. Only your sins are quite your own and your own work. Do not therefore boast of your understanding, memory &c., but be humble, and remember that you will one day have to give an account of them. “And what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7.) Make a resolution not to say one word to-day in your own praise.








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