Bohan had never had a gold coin before. He was not quite sure what to do with it. But his master said to invest it, so invest it he would.
The village bankers encouraged Bohan to deposit his new gold coin with them, promising him a very attractive rate of interest. Bohan declined the offer. By depositing money in a bank Bohan would be letting the bankers do his investing for him. That is not what the master had in mind.
Agriculture presented an obvious investment opportunity, but it was too obvious. The region was dominated by family farms. When local folks thought of investment, they naturally thought of buying a piece of land and planting some seeds. But the world only needs so much wheat and lentils. One more lentil farm would not add that much value.
So Bohan wandered around and talked to lots of people. He discovered what people wanted and what they needed. He also discovered the gifts that other people had. Bohan met a skilled stonemason who was teaching his son the family trade. The man was not only an exceptional craftsman but also a remarkable teacher. As Bohan explored the construction business a little more, he happened upon a man who sold food at the worksites. The man’s food was not really very good and he barely made any money, but he was a natural born salesman and seemed to know everyone in the construction business. Bohan also found a shrewd business manager who had recently lost his job when his former employer sold his business. Together the stonemason, the salesman, the business manager and Bohan formed a partnership to provide masonry services throughout the area. Soon they had acquired a small quarry and were hiring and training new workers just to keep up with the demand. A year into the venture, Bohan not only had a stake in a thriving business, but five gold coins profit to return to his master.
Jesus told us the parable of the ten gold coins to encourage us to put to good use the gifts that God has given us. Imagining how the faithful servants invested their talents can provide some insights into how we might invest ours.
First, we should be bold in making an investment. We miss a golden opportunity if we hide our talents away and let others do the investing for us. God gave us talents for a reason. We should do something with them.
Second, we should be wary of investing our talents where lots of other people have already invested theirs. Opportunities for higher returns are usually found elsewhere. Teachers might consider school districts where both the needs and the potential returns on their investment are the greatest. Medical students might consider specialties using the same criteria.
Finally, we should look for opportunities to collaborate with others. The parable of the gold coins might seem to suggest that investing talents is a solitary enterprise. But that is rarely how investment works. A successful business venture almost always involves bringing together money, hard work, creativity and specialized skills. In a similar way, pooling our gifts with those of others can bring a sizeable return. Such collaboration can be found with married couples, families, parish communities and service organizations of various types.
Like the faithful servants of the parable, if we show some initiative, invest where the needs and opportunities are the greatest, and partner with those who have complementary gifts, we will have a wonderful return to share with the master.
Read more…“Investing the Catholic way”
Author’s note: St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged us to use our imagination in contemplating Scripture passages so that we might draw greater fruit from them. In reflecting on the parable of the talents I use my imagination to fill in some of the details of the story.