The parable in today’s Gospel is one of three parables in Chapter Twenty-Five of Matthew’s Gospel. Together they give us the whole criteria on which God will judge our lives. We are free to consult this criteria now to check up on just how we will fare when we come before God for judgment.
The first parable was the one about the five wise and the five foolish virgins. The oil for their lamps represented friendship with God. The parable told us we would succeed in life if we maintained a friendship with God by not giving away to sinfulness.
The second parable, which we look at today, is the one about making good use of the talents given us. We will come back to that.
The third parable is the one about the king dividing mankind the way a shepherd divides sheep from goats. That parable tells us we will be judged on how we have responded to the needs of others. But, let’s get back to today’s parable about the talents.
I always approach this parable from our belief that we are made in God’s image and likeness. A sixth grade girl once asked me this question: “If we are all created like God, how come some people are left handed?” In itself that was a playful school girl’s question, but hidden in it was the deeper question: “If we are all made like God, how come we are so different from one another?”
I let that question roll around in my mind for a long while, and then one day an original answer came to me. It was this: “We can imagine God to be like a many faceted diamond, and each one of us is born with the potential of mirroring a separate facet of God.” I know this answer is not in the Bible, and I know that it is not part of the Church’s official teaching; but still, I don’t see anything wrong with going with it. With each talent that we fully develop our likeness to God becomes more complete.
In 1988 the Roman Prefect of the Congregation for Education published his own summary of Vatican II’s “Declaration on Christian Education.” He wrote that our duty as Christian educators is to assist each student in developing his or her personality to its fullest. I like to think each student’s personality is that student’s potential for mirroring God in his or her own way. That potential comes to the child as a do-it-yourself-kit. By developing his or her potentials to the fullest the child makes him or herself into a mirror of one facet of God.