As they were hearing
these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem,
and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately be
manifested. He said therefore: A certain nobleman went into a far country,
to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And calling his ten servants,
he gave them ten pounds, and said to them: Trade till I come.
But his citizens hated him: and they sent an embassage after him, saying:
We will not have this man to reign over us.
And it came to pass, that he returned, having received the kingdom: and he
commanded his servants to be called, to whom he had given the money, that
he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
And the first came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he
said to him: Well done, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful
in a little, thou shalt have power over ten cities.
And the second came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And
he said to him: Be thou also over five cities.
And another came, saying: Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I have kept
laid up in a napkin; For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man:
thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and thou reapest that which
thou didst not sow.
He saith to him: Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant.
Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and
reaping that which I did not sow: And why then didst thou not give my money
into the bank, that at my coming, I might have exacted it with usury? And
he said to them that stood by: Take the pound away from him, and give it
to him that hath ten pounds.
And they said to him: Lord, he hath ten pounds.
But I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall
abound: and from him that hath not, even that which he hath, shall be taken
from him. But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them,
bring them hither, and kill them before me.
from the Catholic Encyclopedia
Whether we shall
identify or divide these two celebrated apologues [The Parable of The Talents
and this parable] can scarcely be determined. St. Mark (13:34-36) blends
his brief allusion with a text from the ten virgins. The circumstances in
the first and third Gospels differ; but the warning is much the same.
Commentators note that here the active life is extolled, as in the virgins
a heedful contemplation.
No argument for the lawfulness of usury can be drawn from verse 27. The "servant"
was a bondslave; all that he had or acquired would be his master's property.
"To him that hath shall be given" is one of the "hard sayings" which, while
disclosing a law of life, seems not to harmonize with Christian kindness.
Yet the analogy of God's dealings--not "mere" benevolence, but "wise and
just" recognition of moral effort is hereby maintained. If our Lord, as tradition
tells, said, "Be ye good money changers" (cf. I Thessalonians 5:21), the
same principle is commended. Ethically, all that we have is a trust of which
we rnust give account.
For the diversity of talents, note St. Paul, I Corinthians 12:4 and the
reconciliation of that diversity in "the same spirit". Both parables relate
to Christ's second coming. Hence Loisy and others attribute to the Evangelists,
and especially to St. Luke, an enlargement, founded on later history, perhaps
taken from Josephus, and intended to explain the delay of the Parousia (Ev.
synopt., II, 464-80) . Not accepting these premises, we put aside the conclusion.
Maldonatus (I, 493), who treats the stories as variants, observes, "it is
no new thing that our Evangelists should appear to differ in circumstances
of time and place, since they consider only the general outline (summam rei
gestae), not the order or the time. Where else we find them seeming to disagree,
they wish to explain not Christ's words but the drift of the parable as a
Leaving St. Matthew, we note the one short Story peculiar to St. Mark, of
the seed growing secretly (4:26-29). We have already assigned it to the group
of the mustard tree and the leaven. Its point is conveyed in the Horatian
line, "Crescit occulto velut arbor aevo" (Odes, I, xii, 36). The husbandman
who "knows not how" the harvest springs cannot be the Almighty, but is the
human sower of the word. For homiletic purposes we may combine this parable
with its cognate, "unless the grain of wheat die" (John 12:24) which applies
it to Christ Himself and His Divine influence.
1 The Douay notes say this about the line "He
gave them ten pounds":
In the original,
what is here translated a pound, is in Latin, mina, in value of our coin,
three pounds two shillings and sixpence.
Hence the other
name for this parable as "The Parable of the Minae."