The gospel lesson for this week is a tough one.
First, it's not about "talents" as in God-given talents. A talent was a unit of money, worth about 6,000 days' wages. This landowner is not messing around. He is entrusting his slaves with huge sums of money. This is a parable about money.
Second, it's not about capitalism either. The economy of the first-century world did not understand capitalism. It was a fixed-resource economy. To make more money you had to get it from someone else. It is very likely the wealthy landowner got his land by loaning money to small landowners, who could not repay their debt, lost their land to the landowner and ended up working ... for him ... the land of their ancestors. Wealthy landowners are Biblical bad guys.
Third, is it even good news? Is GOD the ruthless landowner? Are the two slaves who made buckets of money off their fellows and gave it to the landowner good guys? Should the other slave really be punished for giving back exactly what was given to him, and not investing it with the money lenders? Usury (lending money at interest) was still a sin in those days.
I suggest you read the parable in its context ... Matthew chapter 25. It is the second of three parables that are the last teachings Jesus gives his disciples before he begins his passion. On one side, the wise and foolish virgins. On the other side, the parable of the sheep and goats. The ending of the parable of the sheep and goats seems to indicate that Jesus is where the poor people are, where the ones who got screwed by an unjust economy are, where the hungry and homeless are.
So knowing that, how do you read this parable of the incredible amount of money put in the hands of three slaves? What do you think?