We’ve heard that parable many times, and I’m sure many times we’ve interpreted it for ourselves or heard someone explain it as a parable about receiving gifts from God — talents, abilities — and how important it is to use them. Not to waste them, not to let them be dormant, but to be energetic in using what God has given to us, using all our talents for good purposes so that we will hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come enjoy the blessings of God’s kingdom.”
And that’s certainly a valid interpretation of the parable, or at least a possible interpretation, but if we listen to it deeply, I think there is something perhaps even more important. Maybe not quite so obvious, but certainly very important. You notice how the servant who received the one talent was afraid. He feared the master.
Now, the master is Jesus telling this parable to his disciples in the very last speech recorded in the Gospels, just before he’s sending them out into the world where they’ve been given the charge of carrying out the whole mission of the church, living and spreading the Gospel, making other communities of disciples. Jesus is telling this parable at that very point. And the one thing that would make it impossible for the disciples to carry out this mission of Jesus — to spread the good news — is to be fearful, to be afraid, to want to bury that good news, the message that Jesus has entrusted to the disciples….