Every time I read or hear about the parable of the talents (see below), I feel that there is a missing character. What about the person who invests the talents but then loses them all for who knows what reason--poor investment choice, perhaps, or circumstances beyond his/her control?
What if we invest the time, energy, and passion that God has given us in something that doesn't work out, or turns, apparently, into a disaster?
Why isn't this possibility represented in the parable?
In her book God Is Not Reasonable, Irma Zaleski's primary character, Mother Macrina, while speaking to a woman who finds herself paralyzed by indecision and fear as she faces a crucial decision, says, "I have learned, you see, that when we are really alone with God, we soon realize that there is nothing to fear and we know what we must do. When we are with God, we can make no mistakes. "
The woman replies, "What are you saying, Mother?...I know plenty of good people who made awful mistakes."
Mother Macrina says, "If they made them with God, they are not mistakes."
Maybe the reason the "loser" character is not in the parable of the talents is that, all appearances to the contrary, in the heavenly economy, nothing attempted for God and done in love is truly wasted...
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13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25)