Sunday, November 13, 2011

Maximizing Our Talents

"Well done, my good and faithful servant...Come, share your master’s joy." (Matthew 25:21)
The beginning of my homily this evening totally depended on the outcome of this afternoon’s Dolphins game.  You see all year long many fans have been rooting for our home team’s demise in the hopes of getting a coveted quarterback out of Stanford University.  I never quite understood this mentality.  I could see the practical logic (somewhat), but how could you root against your home team?  How could you want your team to perform at a substandard level when it is filled with talented players?  I was overjoyed when the Dolphins won their first game last week, and yet I had friends arguing with me over the cause of my joy because in their mind we had just blown any chance at the first pick in the draft.  Since when does failure equal success?  It’s no secret that I celebrate Mass for the Dolphins the night before every home game.  These are proud and talented men who play and coach for this team with great passion.  They don’t know how to go at any other speed than full speed.  I must tell you that they were upbeat last night.  There was joy.  Today’s outcome seemed predestined because they were dancing on the sidelines at game’s end.  Yet I still got a text from a friend after today’s game telling me that this was bad.  Why?  Those who don’t give their best effort when they have been blessed with great talent will never be justly rewarded.  If you want further proof of this, I offer up the third servant in today’s gospel as Exhibit A.
The third servant had been blessed.  Sure he hadn’t been blessed with as many talents as the other two servants, but he was still blessed nonetheless.  Yet he chose to do nothing with what he had.  He feared his Master.  He feared success.  He thought it would be safer to hide what his master had given to him instead of putting it to good use.  The other servants were bold and put their talents to work.  Upon their master’s return they were justly rewarded with those words we all hope to hear one day in heaven:  "Well done, my good and faithful servant...Come, share your master’s joy." 
The truth is that there are many Christians like the third servant who fear putting their talents and knowledge of their faith to use afraid of what the world might say.  To bring it back to the Dolphins, a great majority of fans would’ve been happy to see them fail and bury their talents in the ground, but the team overcame adversity and strung together two satisfying wins because that is what they are supposed to do:  win!  Not next year, but now!  The Christian who buries his or her talent in the ground is in a way being selfish and not sharing the blessings the Lord has bestowed on them.  They are called to always share this talent:  not next year, but now!  Could you imagine if our musicians here never opened their mouths to sing or played an instrument for fear of failure?  Could you imagine if I, as a priest, never said yes to God because I feared getting up and preaching his Word to hundreds of people every week?  We cannot be afraid, and we cannot be content with mediocrity.  As Christians, we have to multiply the blessings the Lord has given to us.  If things don’t go our way at first, we keep on trying because the Lord is depending on us to spread his Good News through the abundance of talent that he has bestowed on each and every person in this church. We cannot be fearful of what the world has to say or how other people will react.  It’s time we started putting Christianity back in the mainstream and reject the notion that we have an antiquated and outdated faith.  We have to put our talents at the service of the Kingdom of God which is present in the here and now.  We have to multiply our blessings and share them with the world.  We cannot bury our heads in the sand and let the world transform us when we should be transforming the world with the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
We definitely have to bold like the first two servants and set the world on fire for Christ because that is what is required of every Christian.  To do less is to condemn ourselves to the same fate as the lazy and fearful servant.  We must be Christians of conviction that aren’t ashamed to say that we are Christian and to act like someone worthy of that name.  Moreover, we should be people that aren’t ashamed of saying with pride that we are Roman Catholic and that we uphold all that our Holy Church teaches and professes!  Of course, being bold and courageous for the gospel in this increasingly secular world is difficult, but we cannot be fearful and we cannot give less than what we have been blessed with.  To do so would be downright sinful.  If we fold in the face of adversity, as many fans want our football team to do, we will never experience the joy that the first two bold servants were offered by their master. Basically, it all comes down to this:  at the end of our life we will stand before the Lord and he will ask us if we maximized the talents and blessings that he bestowed on us.  May each of us share with the world what the Lord has given to us, so that we may one day hear those glorious words:  "Well done, my good and faithful servant...Come, share your master’s joy."