It set me thinking about the possessions we put away: because we don't need them at present but might do so one day; or we don't want to dispose of them yet; or we simply haven't got around to getting rid of them. Mostly the items are of no particular value, but occasionally we read of the discovery of unexpected treasures - such as the bow.
Unused possessions are one thing. Eventually the time will come for them to be sorted through and perhaps sold or given away for someone else to use. Antique shops are full of such items. But what about the hidden treasures in our own lives, I wonder? What about the unused potential within us, the gifts and talents which could enrich us and others but which currently lie dormant?
St Matthew, in his Gospel, recounts extensive teaching of Jesus during the brief time between his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his arrest. Part of that teaching is what we call the Parable of the Talents (25.14f) in which a man entrusted to each of his servants a number of talents - ten, five, and one respectively. A talent was about ten years' wages for a working man. Those entrusted with ten and five talents made use of them, and doubled their value. The servant entrusted with one talent buried it in the ground.
At first sight it appears to be a parable extolling the virtues of capitalism, but it almost certainly isn't intended to be so. More likely, it's based on a current story of a ruthless wealthy man - perhaps one of the ruling sons of Herod the Great: Archelaus, Philip, or Herod Antipas. (The instruction to the servant with one talent, that at least he should have banked the talent to gain interest, is telling - that would have contravened Jewish law, something Herod's family did frequently.) The real point of the story is to be prepared for the unexpected coming of Jesus, just as these servants prepared or failed to prepare for the return of their master. Accountability and the making use of what we have are part of that preparation.
We assume the story is told to teach us to be ready for the coming of Jesus by making full use of the gifts and abilities we've been given. Certainly that's a valid interpretation, and a constructive one which we should heed.
But it may be that Jesus was also articulating his own need to be ready for the unexpected; for his arrest, trial and crucifixion. Whilst he couldn't know for certain when or even whether this would happen (I believe that because Jesus was fully human, he had to live by faith without any extra knowledge), he sensed it was looming ahead in the near future. He had to be watchful and prepared, and would soon give account for his earthly life. If he needed to remind himself through this and other parables, how much more should we heed what he has to say.