Homily for November 19, 2017 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi
What’s a talent? Today, when we hear the word “talent” we often think about exceptional artistic skills like painting or singing or playing the piano (none of which I possess), or physical skills like playing sports (which I don’t have, either). And we like to showcase those abilities that we consider exceptional in shows or competitions. For example, I’m sure many of you have seen or at least heard of the TV show “America’s Got Talent.” I personally don’t watch it but go check out the YouTube videos of last season’s winner: Darci Lynne Farmer, a 13yr old Oklahoma girl who is a phenomenal singing ventriloquist. And don’t forget our fascination with football – we’d say some football players have particular talents. Too bad it doesn’t seem to be the Cowboys…
But as we hear in today’s Gospel in biblical times, a “talent” was a unit of measure usually used to weigh precious metals. It varied between about 60 and 75 lbs, depending on the culture - Greek, Roman, Egyptian and so on – with Jewish tradition being on the higher end. It was also the equivalent of about 3000 shekels, and a shekel was what some say was the equivalent of the average daily wage for the common laborer of the time. So the one who received only one talent still received the equivalent of 10 years wages. And with gold currently worth about $1300 an ounce, that means your average 10yr old child, who weighs about 70lbs, is worth about $1.5 million dollars today – if he or she was made of gold.
But whether or not we’re talking about talents as precious metals or talents being special skills or abilities, do we recognize that they are gifts from God? They are. And whether we have been blessed with financial success or a great voice or ability to play sports, it is up to us to cultivate that talent – for the glory of God.
In today’s Gospel, the Master gives his servants a ridiculously large sum of money to take care of, and then he just – leaves. No instructions on how to use the talents, no instructions on how to invest them – he simply entrusts his servants with them. And he leaves.
God has done the same thing with us, with one exception: God has given us instructions on what needs to be done with the talents that he has entrusted to us, as in the parable of the sheep and the goats about the Works of Mercy and in the Beatitudes, even if he hasn’t given each of us individual instructions on just how to accomplish it. That challenge has been left up to us.
What are your talents? Do you have any hobbies? What are you good at? Have you ever taken inventory of ALL your skills, your resources – even the personal, fun ones? These all make up YOUR talents. We often don’t think that some of the things we are good at are of any value to others, but God has gifted you with all sorts of talents and each one is to be used, first and foremost, for building of the Kingdom of God. Every one! Trust me. When I was being yelled at to be quiet as a kid, I would never have guessed that one of my most precious talents as a deacon would be my big mouth.
One final thought. Talents are meant to be nurtured and grown. Today’s Gospel ends with, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”