Actually this can be a very difficult gospel story to correctly understand. First we should remember that, a talent is a weight of precious metal = a large amount of money. Those who are poor will say, “Hey, why is the filthy-rich man commended for getting richer through the investments of his servants?” Those who are rich will say, “Hey, that’s the way capitalism works – invest and grow wealthy.” However both of those interpretations would miss the point of the story.
There’s a saying which is that a text out of context is a pretext. So, let’s put Matthew 25:14-30 into context. It is all about actively living one’s faith, one’s Christianity. Matthew puts the parable of the “talents” near the end of his gospel, in the so-called “eschatological” episodes. The Church does the same thing in the Lectionary, in the context of end-time gospel messages. So, the context clearly centres on this fundamental issue: what does a Christian do while he or she is waiting for the end time, the second coming of Christ?
The parable is clear about our mission of discipleship. A disciple is to use all the precious gifts that the Lord has given to him or her: these are the disciple’s “talents,” for the building of the kingdom of God. St. Ignatius reminds us that we need to choose only those actions which will help us reach the end for which we were created: to praise, revere and serve God by serving his people. So failing to use our precious gifts from God is the same as burying our talent, which does not serve God at all. The third servant did have a talent, but he was self-serving, interested in his own security, and not in serving others.
There will be an accounting on judgment day. We shall be held responsible for what we did, or didn’t do, to help build the kingdom of God with our talents.
The “talents” are not all distributed equally among humans. Nevertheless, everyone will be held accountable for the way they have made use of those talents that they have received from God.