Do something… a reflection on the parable of the talents

In Jesus’ parable, the master divided his treasure among three servants. Lest we feel too sorry for the one who received only one share, consider that a talent was a measure of weight denoting about 70 pounds of silver or gold. Given Jesus’ story-telling style, it must have been gold. The poor servant who got only one talent received today’s equivalent of about $2,172,800 to work with while his master was away.

It’s hard to imagine the master’s disappointment in the third servant. He had handed over a significant portion of his life’s work and the servant thought so little of him and his projects that he did nothing with them. He didn’t even ask someone else to use the money and pay him interest on it.

To apply the parable to our times, we need only recognize that today as never before in history, God’s work of creation is in our hands. Humanity has developed creation, learning farming and ranching, building cities and promot-ing life through science and technology, not to mention the arts. Human progress demonstrates uncountable ways in which we have acted like the servants who made the most of their talents.

But we also imitate the servant who buried his charge. The most egregious way we do that today is by ignoring or remaining indifferent to the well-being of our planet. Francis reminds us of the harsh fact that the ecological crisis “threatens the very future of the human family.” As Christians committed to the protection of life, we should take account that in the past 20 years, the rate of abortion has been decreasing steadily, but that same period has seen nine of the Earth’s hottest years on record and a doubling of the rate of rising sea levels. To ignore Earth’s crisis is tantamount to telling the creator “we care nothing for your talent — or even the future of life.”

Unlike the servants facing their master’s judgment, we are not quite at the point of rendering our final account. Francis summarized the hope of his Laudato Sí’ exhortation with the simple statement that “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” He therefore calls us to a conversion to gratitude and loving awareness that we are joined to all creatures in a “splendid universal communion.”

The Creator has invited us to grow in the divine image and has put the work of creation in our hands. Will we be servants worthy of God’s trust?

[St. Joseph Sr. Mary M. McGlone serves on the congregational leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.]

Let us not be indifferent to the well-being of our planet. Let us muster our courage and initative to research to, to sign petitions, to raise our voiced for LIFE.

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