The Parables of Jesus were spoken in symbolic language which lends them to a variety of different, though often interrelated interpretations. Indeed, the very structure of the words which form them make any one sole meaning impossible. It is this fact in particular that has made me skeptical of any church or any faith which stakes a claim to the “real” way. Biblical scholarship has revealed nuance and even irony in the original text itself, both of which must be taken into account before forming any one-sided reading. Jesus often spoke indirectly to avoid persecution by both Roman and Jewish authorities, but beyond the obvious, I have always seen the Parables much as I would an excellent work of poetry, one which provides a new, helpful, before unseen resonance with every subsequent reading. The intrinsic thread remains constant, but new permutations arise as I age and depending on what frame of mind I am in at that particular juncture in my life, I always glean something brand new.
When we talk about our own complicity in a system where those at the top dictate the course of action for those subservient to them, I return to the Parable of the Talents. In this day and age where we often believe that our own power, income, and sphere of influence owes its existence to making compromises with unethical major players, this Parable address our messy moral dilemmas. Here, the version in the Gospel of Matthew, which is cited most frequently.