Parable of the Talents,
Painted by Andrei Mironov (born 1975),
Painted in 2013,
Oil on canvas
© Andrei Mironov Artist
Sir, you entrusted me with two talents
Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: 'The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.
'The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
'Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. "Sir," he said "you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made."
'His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness."
'Next the man with the two talents came forward. "Sir," he said "you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made." His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master's happiness."
'Last came forward the man who had the one talent. "Sir," said he "I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back." But his master answered him, "You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth."'
Reflection on our painting
Even though painted in classical style, our canvas was only executed in 2013. Contemporary Russian artist, Andrei Mironov fought in the First Chechen War. What he experienced in that war had considerable influence on his artistic development. His works, such as our painting today, have a profound meditative aspect and a sense of melancholy. We see depicted the man who was given two talents; he is pondering what to do. As we know, he used his two talents well and gave back four talents to his master. The light he is holding, symbolic of God's grace and guidance, inspired him to make the right decisions to put his two talents to good use.
While talents in our Gospel reading refer to money, a 'talent' in our day usually denotes a particular gift or ability which is given to each of us when we are born. It is a distinctive ability to do something special. God wants that something special to be used to help build his Kingdom here on earth. Today is therefore a great day to think about what those gifts actually are. Maybe some of us have never given much thought to what our special talents might be, talents that we can put at the service of God and God's people.
Fear can, however, prevent us from using our talents well. That is exactly what distinguished the third servant in today’s parable from the other two. We hear of the third man saying, ‘I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground’. Fear disabled him and prevented him from responding to the trust that his master had placed in him by giving him a significant sum of money as a gift. In the gospels, fear is often portrayed as the opposite of faith or trust.
We pray today that God may shine his light upon our talents, like the lantern in our painting, so we can put them to good use for the glory of God.
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