33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 16, 2014 – Year A
Readings: Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thes 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
One of the most popular reality shows on TV today is “America’s Got Talent.” Maybe some of you have watched this show. The most common questions that the judges ask the contestants is, “Do you think the talent you will show us is worth a million dollars?” The message is that if it is not, then they shouldn’t be there.
Although the word “talent” means something different from the word in the parable from today’s gospel, the value of a talent is pretty close to the prize in “America’s Got Talent.”
In the time of St. Matthew, the talent was the largest measurement of money. Since talent was a measurement of weight, it didn’t have a constant value. A talent of gold was worth more than a talent of copper. Since there is a similar story in the gospel of Luke where the nobleman gave the servants gold coins, it is my assumption that in the parable in the gospel of Matthew, our Lord is referring to a talent of gold.
For the past two days, I have had fun searching different sources online to find the current equivalent of one talent of gold, in today’s currency. At 7:00 this morning, according to the NASDAQ, the present price of gold is $1,085 per ounce. One pound is equal to sixteen ounces. One talent is equal to at least 75 pounds. So let’s use the bare minimum of 75. Based on NASDAQ’s figure, one talent of gold in today’s currency would be equal to approximately $1.4 million. The 3rd servant actually buried $1.4 million worth of gold in the ground and did nothing with it.
We may not have had the privilege of receiving a million dollars when we were born, but we were given much more. We were given a billion-dollar body. Our God and creator also gave us talents and abilities so we might live life in all its fullness. He gave us a brain, which cannot be equaled by the most sophisticated computer on the planet. This is something we can use to figure out how to best use the talents God gave us.
The question is not whether God gave us talent or not, but whether we are using them or not. That is presuming we have already identified our talents. A good number of people, after a number of years of living, still have not discovered their talents. So they just work to make a living instead of working to make a life. We also have to understand that talent is different from passion. You can love to play golf, for instance, but you may not have the talent to make it a career. You may be like me. I have a passion for golf, but I will never play like Tiger Woods.
Talent, therefore, is the intersection of passion and practicality. It is something that comes as naturally to you as breathing. You can do it really, really well. Some of us are lucky enough to discover our talent pretty easily, but many of us have to invest time and effort to look inside ourselves. But it is surely worth the effort, because each and every one of us, without exception, has a gift we can give to the world and have fun while doing it.
It is unfortunate that many people seem to walk in darkness because they have no sense of direction. But blessed are those who are given the gift of faith and of enlightenment. St. Paul said in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “You brothers and sisters are not in darkness, for all of you are children of light.” We know we cannot do anything in darkness, but we can do almost everything in the light. Jesus said I am the light of the world. He is not only the light of the world – Jesus is also the way, he is the truth, he is the life.
I say to you what I have said over and over again: this homily is not so much for you who are here. This is more for those who are not here. You know exactly what our Lord is talking about in the parable of the talents, but as you leave the church and mingle with the rest of the world, you will meet people who have no sense of direction – those who are merely existing and not living – because they have no idea of their purpose in life. So it is your duty and mine to help them discover and have a personal relationship with the author of life itself – our creator and our God.
What will be our reward for doing this? What will we get from using our talents to help others and make this world a better place to live in? As the stories of the lives of the saints tell us, the reward is infinitely better than the $1 million dollars that the winner of “America’s Got Talent” gets. Living God’s word, doing his will, is a reward in itself.
As we sang during the responsorial psalm, “Blest are those who love you, happy those who follow you. Happy are those who fear the Lord and walk in God’s pathway, for you will find what you long for: the riches of our God.” The riches of our God are priceless.
We will experience happiness, peace and fulfillment that only God can give in this world. But more importantly, if we continue to use our talents to help others and make this world a better place to live, our Lord will one day, at the end of our earthly existence, say to us as we heard in today’s gospel: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, share your master’s joy.”