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Dear father Angelo,

My name is Alfredo Maria and I’m 29 years old. I have been dwelling for a while now on the parable of the talents, mainly in Matthew’s version. The meaning of this parable is quite clear to me: the gifts of Our Lord shouldn’t be kept for oneself but must be uplifting to others if we want them to bear fruit.

However, there’s a point that I do not understand. In the last part of the parable, when the master reproaches his negligent servant for hiding the talent rather than making it yield, he textually says: “you should have given my money to the bankers“. The thing I usually ask myself is this: what does it mean for a Christian to “give his talent to the bankers”? Who/what are the bankers that we should rely on when we don’t know how to fructify our talents? Could you give me an explanation?

Thank you

The answer from father Angelo

Dear Alfredo Maria,

1. The first meaning of the expression “you should have given my money to the bankers” is this: we must do everything in our power to make the talents that Our Lord gave us fruitful.

Therefore this passage doesn’t indicate anything different from what men do with their money. They deposit them in banks so that they can yield, and the same must be done with the gifts of Our Lord.

2. Since the Greek text of this passage can be translated as “you should have given my silver to the bankers”, some have correlated it to Psalm 11, 7 (“the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible”). For instance, here is what Saint Jerome said: “the money and silver refer to the preaching of the Gospel and the divine words which must be given to the bankers and money-changers; these may refer to the doctors and all the believers who can double the money and render it with interest” (Commentary on Matthew, 1884).

Here is an interpretation: you had to cooperate with your money to the diffusion of the Gospel, helping those who are evangelizing, instructing and preaching it.

3. Another interpretation is this: your talent would have yielded anyway if you had lived in a state of grace. In fact, everything which is done in grace fructifies and merits for eternal life.

Jesus said: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15, 4-5).

On the other hand, if we’re not united in Christ because we’re deprived of grace, we can’t bear fruit: a branch detached from the vine can’t ripen anything.

Here, the talent given to us by Christ indicates the sanctifying grace that sinners do not make fruitful because they set it aside and don’t want to take it.

4. Then it is clear why this servant is treated so severely: “And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matthew 25, 30).

Saint Gregory the Great comments on this: “You who have the faculty of understanding, take great care not to be silent. You who have abundant fortune, make sure you do not allow the compassion that drives you to give to become numb; you who have experience in governing, let others share in it; you who have the task of speaking, intercede before God for your neighbor. In fact, even the smallest thing you received is a talent.” (Comment on Matthew). 

I wish you to fructify the word (the argent) that Our Lord makes you hear, and to always live in a state of grace so that you will fructify for eternal life. I bless you and will remember you in my prayers.

Father Angelo