Today I'm more and more inclined to think that this parable actually has very little to do with "talents" as we know them and much more to do with money and banking and oppression and power, and also one poor, faithful, schlep who stood up to it all and took a hit for it.
To ring in the New Year for me now is in the primal moment, because I know time is cruel and limited, and as far as I know, it has me running for my life, trying to accomplish what I need to before it catches me.
Life, in its millions of manifestations, is essentially a variety of transactions. The transactions can be of many kinds -- between nations, cultures, individuals. There are transactions which are cellular, atomic and cosmic.
Individuals who return to integrity may find themselves forever stigmatized, set apart, and not welcomed back into relationship and community. Sometimes the harshest critics are themselves lacking integrity.
Jesus has his moments when he speaks plainly, but much of what the Gospels convey is a lot more elusive. That's what makes his teachings so evocative, and sometimes offensive, and sometimes restorative.