What is a Talent?

33rd Sunday in Ordinary time

Perhaps the most common understanding of the word talent is a certain ability or gift that God has given each one of us. Yet we should be careful to remember that what a talent means in the ancient Biblical sense is different to how we understand it today.  A talent in ancient times was a measurement of something weighty, like silver or Gold.  Thus to the ancient reader, the use of the word talent would instantly bring to mind something heavy. But more than this, to the mind of a Jew, the heaviness of a talent would probably conjure up the idea of God’s mercy. Because in those times, there was nothing heavier than kabod Yahweh – the glory of God. A symbolic representation of the kabod Yahweh could be found in the Temple of Jerusalem, resting on the mercy seat above the arc of the covenant. (Google a picture of the arc of the covenant if you can!!!)

Therefore, the talents in our Gospel symbolise the ‘heaviness’ of God’s mercy, and the distribution of these talents to the servants symbolise our participation in this same mercy. Unfortunately, one of the servants was not adequate in sharing the same mercy they received with others. Maybe he did not understand God’s love properly, or maybe he just wanted to keep it to himself. In any case, the mercy of God by nature is to be shared with others.

There is something for us to remember this week, God’s mercy will grow in you only in as much as you give it to others. Fr Graeme  

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