Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Parables of Talents

Gospel Reflection by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, PH.D. at the Crossroads Initiative

I’ve seen it time and time again. Someone decides to seek a better paying job, or pursue and investment strategy, or launch a new business. Invariably some pious person in the parish objects that maybe this is too worldly, that it will be a distraction from Church and family priorities, that one should be satisfied with what one has.

You’d think from this that faith equals passivity. That the only perfect Christian is the cloistered contemplative. That mildness is the greatest of Christian virtues.

Husband and Wife Bears

There are a number of Scripture texts that shatter this picture. One is the image of the ideal wife in Proverbs 31. The Blessed Virgin Mary read this passage and, as the most perfect of Israelite wives, most probably modeled herself after the woman portrayed here. Does the Proverbs 31 woman sit around passively, praying a lot, and wearing beige? No. The first few verses of the chapter poetically tell how she is more valuable than pearls, a true prize. The rest of the passage tell us why she is such a catch–she knows how to roll up her sleeves and hustle. The passage tells of her side business ventures that increase the family’s wealth, which she shares with the poor. Of course if she hadn’t worked so shrewdly and diligently, there would not be anything to share with the poor.

Parable of the Talents

Another Scripture that shatters the picture of Christianity as passivity is the famous parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Note that it is money (yes money!) that the master entrusts to his various servants, different amounts according to varying abilities. Two servants realize that the master wants a return on his capital, so they invest it and each double it. The master does not expect to get the same sum back from these two because they started with different amounts. But they both received the exact same praise because they both gave him a hundred per cent return.

The servant of least ability, on the other hand, buried the money for fear of losing it.Instead of praising him for being conservative, the master is outraged. If you entrusted your retirement nest egg to a stockbroker, and years later it had not grown at all, would you be happy?

The master was angry because the servant had allowed fear to paralyze him. So afraid was he of losing money that he did not even take the very modest risk of depositing the money in the bank (there was no FDIC insurance in those days).

Money: November 08

The Lord has entrusted lots of things to us: money, natural talents, spiritual gifts, the saving truth of the Gospel. He expects us not just to conserve these things but to grow them. In the last supper discourse (John 15) he speaks of the disciples as bearing much fruit. In the Parable of the Sower and the Seed he speaks of grain that bear 30, 60, and 100 fold. Whatever labor we are involved in–economic, family, apostolic–the goal should be to develop, increase, and grow what God has given us, for his honor and glory.

This inevitably involves taking risks. It means not letting the fear of failure and ridicule stop us from pursuing success.  

One of the greatest Catholic thinkers of the 20th century was a Swiss priest named Hans Urs von Balthasar. He once pointed out that one of the most frequently used words in the book of Acts was the Greek word parrhesia, meaning cheerful boldness in the face of danger or opposition. Without such boldness, Christianity would have stalled in Palestine. It never would have made it to Antioch, Greece, and Rome.

Faithfulness to God means having the courage to take bold initiatives, in pastoral life, family life, and business, to be creative, even entrepreneurial, to express our gratitude to God for all that He has given us by making it grow.

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Jesus, Bring the Rain

My family has just made it through an ordeal, one that I don’t wish to describe here in detail.  This is for their sake because while I do play a part in that story, I’m not really a main character in it and so it is not my story to tell, beyond the fact that it was a true struggle and involved financial stability.  During this struggle, it truly gave me an appreciation for my past and for my own struggles that I went through as I wrestled like Jacob with God years ago.  It imparted on me some understanding of the purpose behind the suffering.  God did not create us to suffer, but starting with the choices that Adam and Eve made, suffering came into the world by our own free will. 

It is not an easy lesson to learn or to accept, but I think that without learning this lesson, one cannot be granted peace in every circumstance.  Now obviously I have not really learned this lesson, because while like the song ‘Bring the Rain’ from Mercy Me, my soul cries ‘I am Yours regardless of The dark clouds that may loom above’, I still struggle with ordeals and suffering.  I still haven’t learned to cast all my burdens to the Lord, and I worry and fret over my family and mine circumstances.  But every test that the Lord brings before me, either the tests that I personally experience or the tests that my family and friends go through, it imparts on me a little more understanding, and a little more wisdom.  It is this that I seek to remember, when I am presented with a new challenge of discomfort.  Like a ton of bricks, the song lyrics from Mercy Me hit me on my way to work this morning, and it was something that I wanted to share with you.

I hope too that you my readers also learn this lesson at the pace that the Lord grants you and that in your suffering you can learn to turn to God and give him your trust. 

‘Bring the Rain’ by Mercy Me
I can count a million times People asking me how I Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through The question just amazes me Can circumstances possibly Change who I forever am in You Maybe since my life was changed Long before these rainy days It’s never really ever crossed my mind To turn my back on you, oh Lord My only shelter from the storm But instead I draw closer through these times So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace Bring the chance to be free Bring me anything that brings You glory And I know there’ll be days When this life brings me pain But if that’s what it takes to praise You Jesus, bring the rain   I am Yours regardless of The dark clouds that may loom above Because You are much greater than my pain You who made a way for me By suffering Your destiny So tell me what’s a little rain So I pray Holy, holy, holy  Is the Lord God Almighty

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