This is Wednesday of the fifth week of Lent. The reading is Matthew 25, with a focus on verses 14-30. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)
Wright talks about the parable of the talents and points out that Jesus’ first hearers would undoubtedly have taken this as a story about God and Israel: God had given Israel tremendous privileges and corresponding responsibilities, and Israel had failed to make use of what she had been given.
But, as Wright points out: “to be sure, we can read it, and the church has read it for many years, in a secondary sense to do with Jesus’ own calling of his followers, his gift to each of us which is to be used for his service. John Henry Newman, the great nineteenth- century writer and eventually cardinal, used to say that each of us has been put here with a particular purpose and calling which only we can do. Our task is to find out what that is and to do it. That remains true whether the purpose is playing the trumpet, cooking meals, planting trees, performing heart transplants or even preaching sermons.
“Sometimes, of course, it’s a struggle to discover what our calling is. Sometimes people are quite clear about their particular gifts but have no opportunity to exercise them. But each of us is called to exercise the primary, underlying gifts of living as a wise, loving human being, celebrating God’s love, forgiving, praying, seeking justice, acting prudently and courageously, waiting patiently for God’s will to be done. If we are trustworthy with these gifts at least, God will be ready with his answer: Well done, good and trustworthy servant. To hear those words from an earthly master would bring a glow of satisfaction. To hear them from the Lord of love will be greater than the greatest delight we can imagine.”
I love the middle line of that paragraph. Lord let me “live as a wise, loving human being, celebrating your love, forgiving, praying, seeking justice, acting prudently and courageously, waiting patiently for your will to be done.” It reminds me of Andrew Peterson’s song Tools, and a little bit of Sara Groves’ Setting up the Pins.