Today’s Readings: AM Psalm 40, 54; PM Psalm 51; Zech. 7:8-8:8; Rev. 5:6-14; Matt. 25:14-30
A Reflection from Mitchell Sams, the Bishop’s Clerk
As we have been reading about throughout the season of Advent, this season is a time of reflection, contemplation and preparation. As a cradle Episcopal layman, I openly admit that I am not as familiar with my Bible as I should be. My initial reactions to the reading from Revelations therefore made me feel it belongs in a Tolkien novel rather than Scripture. And while the parable of the master distributing talents I find reminiscent of middle school math word problems, the teachings it contains I feel invites us to still ourselves and reflect on the ends of the busyness in our lives.
The talent parable from Matthew is one of industrious, large-scale preparation. A quick Google search shows that a biblical Jewish talent is equivalent to 100 lbs. of silver ($32,000). This modern equivalency of the talents distributed ($160,000, $64,000, and $32,000 respectively) helps us realize what a large responsibility was given to the slaves. In our self-reflection we ask ourselves, “To what end are we using our time, money and efforts in our Christian lives?” Surely this is an even greater responsibility given to us than the slaves. We use the season of Advent to take a moment to think about how each slave reacted and realign ourselves away from the squandering slave towards spiritual productivity.
The second aspect of this self-reflection is moving forward, always striving to do the most with our spiritual productivity. The slave given one talent, who is rebuked for burying it rather than investing it, I find rubs against what Meyers-Briggs describes as my “ambitious, improvising, rule-breaking, and silver-tongued” personality type. Rather than a call for us all to seek holy orders, this period of reflection is a time to re-energize ourselves, to rekindle our spiritual ambition and move forward in the year ensuring that we are using the talents we were given.
As the master told the productive slaves, “You have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” In your reflections this Advent season, resolve your life’s own talent word problem. How can you refocus your spiritual productivity and better invest your talents? How many talents of profit can you return to the master?