The talents


“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (RSV Catholic edition, Matthew 25:19)

It was in Jerusalem on the Tuesday in Holy Week that Our Lord told the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Virgins), and on the same day he also told the Parable of the Talents.  The importance of the warning which this parable gives us may be gauged by the fact that on the previous Saturday at Jericho he had told a similar parable with the same clear-cut warning – the Parable of the Pounds.

The Parable of the Talents opens with a group of servants saying good-bye to their master as he sets out on a journey to a far distant country.  It may be a long time before he returns, and now they are receiving their final instructions about the supervision of his property during his absence.  Each one, in proportion to his ability, is appointed trustee for a particular amount of his master’s money.

The most capable is made responsible for the management of five talents – a huge sum, for one talent was more than 15 years’ wages of a labourer. (1) Another is entrusted with two talents, and a third with one.  Having made this arrangement for them, their master sets off on his travels, but without letting them know when they are to expect him back.

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