33A – 19 Nov 2023

Bags of gold

Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

  • Liturgy of the Word

    33A – Ordinary Sunday 33

MP3 media (9am)

MP3 media (10:30am)

In this homily, Fr Richard Healey reflects on two contrasting conversations he had with fellow priests and relates it to the Gospel parable of the talents / bags of gold. He explains the parable is not about financial success, but about the importance of relationships and sharing the love of God. He discusses the power of conversations, how they can either encourage or discourage us, and urges the congregation to take risks, engage in meaningful conversations, and share their faith. The episode serves as a reminder not to bury our talents but to use them to spread love and good news.

During the week. I had these two conversations with two brother priests, and I hadn’t seen either of them for a while. And so it was both longer kinds of conversations, and both were pretty intense in their their own way, just very kind of engaging and lots of chewing and throwing and discussing and sharing and, and and all of, of that. That can happen when two people are very passionate about something and as something that. Yeah, both. After both occasions, you know, my sleep was, was kind of interrupted because there was just this still, when you’re processing, when you’ve had those kind of conversations that are so kind of evocative and so rich that sometimes it can you can still be just pondering and kind of thinking and, and going through the implications of, of what was kind of happening in that. But what was interesting for me is that one of them was this rich and kind of a powerful, very encouraging kind of conversation. It was just filled with joy and wonder and hope.

(00:01:10) – And the other conversation was less like that. It was more just about things that really kind of disturbed me, or things that I was a bit kind of challenged and concerned about. And I think when we’re thinking about the gospel today and of course, the image that we had on the bulletin and on the screens of the bags of gold, I mean, that’s a much better literal translation for this idea of talent. The Greek word is simply talent. And so in the English weave, rather than trying to translate it, trying to to explain what a talent is, we’ve just taken the Greek word and shoved it into English letters, and it’s from this Greek word that we’ve then got this idea of a talent as as some ability or natural gift that you have and the way that you’re able to to use that. And it makes sense of that. But this idea of the bags of gold and a talent was ultimately a measure of weight. So it depended whether it was with bronze or whether it was silver, or whether it was gold, as to how much a talent of that was worth, the most common was with silver.

(00:02:32) – So five bags of gold would have been about $5 million worth two bags, 2 million, one bag a million. So even the dude that only got the one bag of gold, I mean, boxes, it’s not a trifling amount. We’d all consider that. Yes, that’s worth investing time and energy trying to work out. How do I respond with this one talent with this one bag of gold? What am I going to do with it? And the one who had the five? And it’s not just about whether this person had an extra amount of business acumen, whether he was this kind of shrewd investor where he was able to play the markets. All of those ideas kind of miss the point of this. You know, we shouldn’t be bringing a very capitalist, market centric idea. And as a person, my first degree was in economics. So I know how to think about those kinds of things or to consider things in that sort of frame of mind. But now what Jesus is clearly saying, remember, this is in Holy Week.

(00:03:40) – These are in the final days and hours of his life. He’s really wanting the disciples to understand what is key and what is significant. And Jesus is always about relationship, always about friendship. Will we be the kind of people that share this immense treasure of knowing God? Will we be the people that have, having experienced this profound sense of just the wonder of being loved, of being accepted for who we are? Will we be the kind of people that carry that and share that then with others around us? Or will we just be content to hold on to that tightly and say, yes, I’ll hold onto my faith and I won’t let anyone else have it, but I won’t let go of it. And so many Catholics are like that, you know, so many of us kind of think that, well, you know, as long as I keep doing what I need to do, as long as I keep praying, and as long as I keep attending mass and doing the right things, that’s all that matters.

(00:04:45) – I know this parable is reminding us, and those two conversations kind of reminded me. You know, conversations can either encourage and build us up. They can remind us of just that, the treasure it is to be a friend of the Lord. Or they can tear us down. They can undermine our sense of who we are and that ability to to share that love so freely and so generously. The one who had the five was able to take those risks. And again, the Greek kind of concept clearly indicates that this is more about those human interactions, those conversations that we’re invited to have to to share the good news, to share the love of God, to to share the wonder of what we have experienced and encountered. And the person with the five, you know, built on those. He continued to work on those who continue just to plant those seeds in season and out. You know, as we heard earlier in the year when we were running the Alpha program, you know, this Alpha is primarily about building that encouragement to be a people, that invite people that share the good news, that people that take it upon ourselves, that we cannot hold on to this treasure ourselves.

(00:06:05) – We have to share it. We can’t just bury it under the ground. We need to be people that continue to invite. And because someone says no to us the first time doesn’t mean they’re going to say no after 5 or 10 more invitations. You know, we need to continue to build that culture where we’re constantly encouraging others, constantly inviting others more deeply into life, constantly asking of others the best of what they can be. You know, if we just say, yeah, you just turn up to mass and that’s enough, then we’ll just get a culture of people who settle, who are prepared just to bury their talents, bury the treasures under the ground, and nothing good will ever flow from that. But Jesus is inviting us into this absolute abundance, this gift of his love that is so freely and so generously poured out upon us. And all we need to do is to be open to that, and to be curious about the kind of conversations that we are having, to be curious about the kind of attitude that we present the way that we are in the world.

(00:07:15) – You know, am I this influence of goodness and love and kindness and truth? Or am I about something else? Will I continue to be someone that cultivates life and goodness? Will I speak that truth into the world, and will I let others rejoice and share in the wonder of being loved? We’re invited to receive this treasure. We’ve been entrusted with the goodness of God and the life of God. Let’s be people that invest that with others. Let’s be people that share that joy freely and generously with those around us, so that they too, can also experience the wonder and the goodness of God’s love present among us.

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