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We are called to transform the world

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Nov. 22, 2017

God’s creation is in the process of development. The movement is continuous. We can learn from the past, but we cannot live in the past. The change is constant and, inevitably, the world we leave will be a different world than the one we came into.

Jane and Ralph had just returned home from their 50th wedding anniversary party. Jane was feeling pretty nostalgic. “You used to kiss me very tenderly,” she said to her husband. So, Ralph leaned over and tenderly kissed her.

“You used to hold my hand,” she said. So, he reached over and took her hand in his. “You used to gently bite my ear lobe,” Jane reminisced. Ralph then immediately began to walk out of the room. “Where are you going?” she asked impatiently. “To get my teeth,” he replied.

We can cherish past events, but we cannot re-live them. We cannot freeze them. We cannot wrap up life in a neat package and say, “This is the way it always was; this is the way it is; this is the way it always will be.” 
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks a parable about a rich man who entrusts three men to take care of some of his money. The parable ends as the rich man praises the two who invested his money and doubled it, and strongly condemns the third man who played it safe.

We would be wrong to imagine that in the parable, Jesus is teaching us how to double our money. It has nothing to do with our 401K’s or our stock portfolios, or even our piggy banks. The lesson to be drawn is all about life.  The father has given each of us a life to be invested in the growth and development of His coming kingdom. Jesus is telling us not to bury our God-given talents for advancing His Kingdom on earth.

The Lord is calling us to something new. We love our traditions. We recognize the value of the past. But there are many times when we are called to relinquish the pleasure and comfort and the security of the old, and to risk the emergence of something new. 

When St. Paul tells the Thessalonians and us to stay “sober and alert,” he does not mean that we should go through life frowning and passive. Christians are the ones who live in the light, who are awake - that means we are called to be lively, creative, and active. In fact, that’s what all the best Christians have always been: fully engaged in life, using their talents to the maximum to glorify God and build up His Kingdom. How often Pope Francis urges us to enter into the muckiness of life today.

That’s a lesson we take from today’s Gospel. The servants praised by the master are the ones who took their talents and went into business. They got involved in the world around them. They took risks and challenged themselves. I suspect they lived with gusto and vigor. The foolish servant was the one who retreated into himself, who refused to make a commitment or take a risk.

As followers of Christ, we are called to transform the world, to spread the Gospel directly and indirectly, to be the best artists, athletes, teachers, business people, politicians, deacons, consecrated religious, priests, bishops, carpenters and scientists the world can find.

To use our God-given talents well, we must develop them fully and then put them into action, glorifying God by serving others and bringing light into this sinful, darkened world.

That’s what St. Paul himself did.  He didn’t build a fortress around himself and passively wait for Christ to come again - that’s not what being “sober and alert” means.  He tirelessly preached the Gospel, traveling all over the civilized world in order to communicate God’s goodness. He didn’t stand still when it came to his faith. 

Another good example of such growth is your own flexibility and support as our diocesan planning process continues.  Growth isn’t easy. I’m so grateful to our pastors and their staff for their leadership and your support as we seek to communicate God’s love and be nourished by the sacraments in our local parish families. That’s the Christian spirit.

Knowing that Christ will come again, that there is a purpose behind human activity, has made Christian culture the most active, creative culture in history.  Because we are Christ-led and Christ-fed, we are hope-filled.
Christ put it: “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” As we approach Thanksgiving Day and the end of another Church year, it is good to reflect on the blessings we have received this past year and to look forward to new opportunities to communicate God’s goodness. 

Out of a sense of profound gratitude may we commit to being ever more alert to creatively invest our time, our very selves, into sharing the news of all that God, in His goodness, has done for us. 

The lazy servant in today’s Gospel would not have been excused by arguing that he didn’t have much of a talent for business.

None of us will be excused because we don’t have the personality, the confidence or the talent to share our Catholic faith.

While we are each different, we can find ways to talk about and share our faith.  We pray for the courage, the energy to invest more of ourselves into spreading the Good News because we know we have each been blessed. A good place to start is within our parishes, indeed, our own families.

May God be praised!  Forever may God be praised!

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