Matthew 25:14-30 2023/09/24 Osaka Church
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
A master, who was going on a journey, entrusted his property to his servants. The servant who was entrusted with 5,000 silver pieces (5 talents) and the servant who was entrusted with 2,000 silver pieces did business and doubled the amount. They were praised by their master, saying, “You have done well, faithful servants,” and were entrusted with the management of even more property. On the other hand, the servant who was entrusted with 1,000 silver handed over the 1,000 silver he had entrusted to him and said, “You are a very strict person. I was afraid of what would happen if I lost even a penny, so I buried it in a hole.” When his master heard this, he got angry and threw him out into the darkness, saying, “You’re lazy. At least you should put your money in the bank and earn some interest.”
The English word “talent” comes from this Talent in this gospel, which represents 1,000 pieces of silver. Nowadays talent means the person with talent. This parable is often used to explain that the best way to live is to make full use of your talents and individuality given to you by God. It seems to make sense, but this interpretation is far off the mark and even sinful. If you’re thinking, “What?”, try remembering what this parable was about in the first place. The Lord spoke as follows…
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man, when he goes on a journey, he calls his servants and entrusts them with his goods.”
It’s heaven. …So, is He teaching that living a life that fully demonstrates your talents and individuality is suitable for heaven? It is true that in this world, people who are good at making money are encouraging people to develop their talents and refine their individuality. But really? Due to various circumstances such as the environment in which they grew up, the era in which they grew up, and differences in their abilities, most people end their lives without being able to live a luxurious life following the idea of “living to the fullest of their individuality and talents.” Are all such people “lazy” and “cast out into the outer darkness”, that is, are they locked out of heaven? This idea is absurd.
What kind of person was entrusted with talents and increased them?
A person who believed in God. One talent is 6,000 denarii. A denarius was the daily wage of an ordinary worker at that time. About 60 million yen! Even the servant with the least, was entrusted with one talent. This represents the tremendous magnitude of what God expects from us. Exciting? No, we are trembling. But at the same time, this is a tremendous amount of God’s grace, commensurate with that tremendous expectation. A person who has grown the wealth entrusted to him by his master is one who believed in the blessings and faced the irreplaceable challenges entrusted to him “here and now”, especially the challenges of love, and survived.
Then, what kind of person was the person who buried the talent in the ground?
A person who did not believe in God. He is a person who did not live his life as a task entrusted to him by God. These are the people who turn away from the challenges God is calling them to take on because they are afraid of losing the self-satisfaction they are clinging to, a very vague sense of self-satisfaction. We continue to hesitate to “believe in God,” continue to doubt what has been promised, continue to be frightened by the completely new way of life that faith opens up, and refuse to enter heaven, the spacious place of freedom that only faith can open to us. God does not cast people out into the “outer darkness,” but instead humans themselves continue to remain in the darkness.
Living is a project, a project to prove God’s love. In other words, this “life” given by God is not meaningless. It’s worth living. This is because Christ, who is God, but who has become a human like us, and who shares joy, suffering, and even death with us, is by our side. This is an attempt to prove the joy of this throughout our lives. God’s greatest joy is when people throw away their fear, believe, and jump into this project to testify to it through our lives. The success or failure of this project has nothing to do with talent. Whether we are willing to take on situations from which we cannot escape, whether we pray earnestly to find out what God requires of us, whether we face failure without fear, or whether we take hardship and suffering as a cross that Christ imposed on us. Did you carry your burden as a yoke that is easy to bear? Did you ask God for forgiveness when you messed up? Did you thank God for the outcome and share the joy with your neighbors? It depends on that. Christ is teaching. This life of “believing in God” and believing in God as love is heaven, and the gates of heaven will only open to those who share that love with each other.
As we work hard in our daily lives, especially in love, we share the body of the Lord here and now. Herein lies the beginning and completion of this project.