A Homily by St. Gregory the Great, Patriarch of Rome
Dearly beloved brethren, this Lesson from the Holy Gospel warneth us to beware lest we, who have received more in this world than others, should on that account be judged the more severely by the Maker of this world. To whom much is given, of the same is much required. Therefore let him that receiveth much, humble himself much, and be ready to do God much service, according to the much that he hath received, knowing that he will be obliged to render a strict account thereof. Behold how the man, traveling into a far country, calleth his own servants, and delivereth unto them talents, to the end that they may trade therewith. But after a long time, the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoned with them. And to them that have done well, he rendereth a reward of their labours. But to that servant which was careless of his master’s work he hath nothing to render save retribution.
Now who is this man traveling into a far country, if not our Redeemer, who is gone up from us into heaven in that very flesh of ours whereof he is partaker? For the earth is rightly the home of the flesh, which was taken as it were into a far country when our Redeemer took it up into heaven. And of this man traveling into a far country, we read that he delivered unto his servants his goods. So doth our Redeemer give spiritual gifts unto his faithful people. Unto one we read that he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. There are five bodily senses ; that is, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. By the five talents, therefore we are minded of the five senses, which are the several wits whereby we take knowledge of outward things. And in like manner, by the two talents we are minded of with and work. And thus the one talent becometh a figure of will alone.
Now he that received five talents, gained other five talents. For some there be who have little with for things inward and mystic and yet, with hearts intent on our fatherland above, do teach well all whom they can concerning those outward things which they have the with to understand. So do they make double gain, for they keep themselves clean form the wantonness of the flesh, and the lust of the world, and the delight of things which are seen, and by their preaching do also keep other men clean from all these things. And some there are who receive, as their two talents, the power to think and the power to work. These are they which inwardly understand dark things, and outwardly work wonders. And these also, since in their preaching they trade unto others both their understanding and their works, gain as it were double by their trading, since those unto whom they preach do thereby add to themselves the talent for with and work.
Holy David, Patron of Wales, is one of the most celebrated of the British Saints. He lived in the latter part of the sixth century, and is said to have been the son of a Welsh chieftain. He was ordained priest, and studied for a while, perhaps on the Isle of Wight, under the direction of a disciple of that Saint Germanus who later became Bishop of the Isle of Man. Thereafter David was a most active missionary, and taught the Faith and built churches in very many places. Finally he settled in the southwest corner of Wales, at Menevia, and founded a monastery, wherein he and his monks lived a life of extreme austerity, in imitation of the cenobites of the Thebaid. And because they never drank anything stronger than water, Saint David got the nick-name Waterman. * There is an old story that he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and that he was there consecrated Archbishop of Wales by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. However it may have happened, it is certain that he was made Bishop of Menevia, which same was afterwards called Saint David’s in his honour, and was the chief See of Wales. His death is supposed to have occurred about the year 601. Giraldus saith that he was a great ornament and example to his age, and that he continued his rule as bishop until he was a very old man, when he went to God.
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that the devout prayers of blessed David, thy Confessor and Bishop, may in such wise succour and defend us, that we which on this day observe his festival, may follow his constancy in the defence of thy true religion, through Jesus Christ our Lord.