Jesus asks us to risk fidelity —put out into the deep…
(CUSA) – Playing it safe is not the way of Christian life. Neither is lukewarmness. Instead it is the risk of consciously living life in Christ. The alternative is a life of mediocrity. Is that what we want? It’s certainly not wat Jesus preached.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily Nov. 18, 2015 during the semi-annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. —Ed.
ARCHBISHOP THOMAS WENSKI—
(ArchdioceseMiami) – This Lucan parable has a different context — and a different twist than Matthew’s Parable of the Talents. Luke tells us that Jesus told this parable because they were “near Jerusalem.” The disciples thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately. That’s not what’s going to happen Jesus is telling them. For soon enough the crowds would be shouting, “We have no king but Cesar.”
The servants each receive an equal share of gold coins and are told, “Engage in trade with these until I return.” In this parable, the nobleman tells the servants that he expects them to invest his money. But engaging in trade…investing… is risky business.
So Jesus is telling his disciples, they are not going to reap immediate rewards. And in the parable, the one who ducks for cover is condemned, the one who seeks to avoid risk is singled out as an “unfaithful servant.”
Pope Francis has said, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
Likewise, Jesus is telling his disciples as he prepares to enter Jerusalem and undergo the Passion, that in following him they must expect to live risky lives.
Jesus never tells his disciples — nor does he tell us — to play it safe; rather he challenges us “Duc in altum” — put out into the deep. The parable then is a challenge to each of us to embrace the risks of fidelity.
And, of course, that is what the seven sons do in the reading from Second Macabees. Their mother urges them on with these words: “…since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning…he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”
One of the principal teachings of the Second Vatican Council was a renewed emphasis on the universal call to holiness. As St. John Paul II said in Novo Milenio Ineunte “the time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living” and that since baptism is a call to holiness, “it would be a contradiction to settle fora life of mediocrity marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity.”
The Year of Mercy presents us with great opportunities to re-propose to our people the Joy of the Gospel to be found in “this high standard of ordinary Christian living.” To proclaim mercy does not eliminate the costs or the risks of discipleship — for mercy to be truly mercy cannot be reduced to just some kind of “cheap grace.”
Cheap grace would be preaching forgiveness without repentance, baptism without discipline, Communion without confession and absolution without personal conversion.
Today the Church in the United States celebrates the feast day of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, a true missionary disciple to our country. The life of this saintly woman of faith and charity and the lives of all the saints whose memories we honor and whose prayers sustain us remind us that we too are called to be the saints we were baptized to be.
These holy men and women embraced the risk of fidelity and their witness defies those voices heard too often these days which suggest that asking for the heroic is asking for just too much.