Gospel Reflection for November 19, 2023 – 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: Proverbs 31.10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 1 Thessalonians 5.1-6; Matthew 25.14-30

Jesus told this parable. A man going on a journey summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them, according to the abilities of each. To one, he gave five talents; to a second, he gave two talents; to a third, one talent. Immediately the servant who received the five talents invested them and made another five. In the same way, the servant who received two talents doubled the figure. The servant who received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and buried the master’s money. After a long absence, the master came home and settled accounts. 

A denarius was a day’s wage for the ordinary worker in Jesus’ time. Anyone who worked six days a week for one denarius each day earned 340 denarii a year. To be entrusted with one talent is to have at one’s disposal the earnings of an ordinary laborer for 17 years. The five talents the first servant receives would take 85 years for the ordinary laborer to earn.

What might be a wage today comparable to the one denarius per day a laborer earned in the first century? Working a 40-hour week at a $15 per hour job, a worker today earns around $30,000 per year. At $30,000 per year, earnings over 17 years round out to $500,000, the amount the master entrusts to the third servant.

The master entrusts the first servant with five times that amount, $2,500,000. The master in Jesus’ parable is not giving the servants a pittance to test their trustworthiness to handle his affairs. They have received a windfall, like winning the lottery. The priceless windfall each of us has received is life itself. 

  • What is one of the most valuable ways you have invested your life energies?
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