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Spirituality

What shepherding requires

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Four neighbor women gather their teenage children as the smog-filtered sun begins to rise. The mothers check backpacks and bundles, all the while giving directions. Do this, don't do that. Go here, don't go there. Keep clean. Pray. Every day, pray. Everyone is frightened, confused. Each holds on to another as if existence itself depends on the feel of skin on skin. The teens hold back tears. The mothers' eyes are overflowing.

We must understand what causes injustice and have the courage to change the world

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We've heard that parable many times, and I'm sure many times we've interpreted it for ourselves or heard someone explain it as a parable about receiving gifts from God -- talents, abilities -- and how important it is to use them. Not to waste them, not to let them be dormant, but to be energetic in using what God has given to us, using all our talents for good purposes so that we will hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come enjoy the blessings of God's kingdom."

Talent show

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Do you know what a talent is? In the biblical sense, it's not the ability to carry a tune or the instinct for making a fortune on the stock market. A talent is a measure of weight, specifically the typical weight of a soldier's pack, something in the range of 75 to 100 pounds. As it is used in this parable, it refers to the weight of the coins entrusted to three servants. The talents the master gave his servants made a heavy load of very valuable coins; one talent is estimated to be worth something like a million dollars in today's money.

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