Part 4 of a weekly series.
We cannot just be consumers of grace.
Let me explain. Being a disciple means following Jesus along the path of holiness. This path requires solid instruction and proper formation in the spiritual life. But discipleship — becoming a faithful follower of Jesus — isn’t complete until it flowers into apostolic work.
That is when we are no longer just consumers of grace. We now begin to share our spiritual gifts with others.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells us not to squander our spiritual gifts (Matthew 25:14-30). We are to invest and multiply our baptismal "talents" of faith, hope and charity along with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The personal gifts we receive at baptism are not ours to bury. They are meant for others, too.
The master in the parable reprimands the unfaithful steward who buries his one talent: "You wicked and slothful servant you knew that I reap where I have not sown ... you ought to have invested my money with the bankers ... and I should have received what was my own with interest" (26-27).
What does Jesus mean when he has the master say that he reaps where he does not sow? Think about it. Christ’s work of salvation requires our cooperation. When we draw people to God’s infinite mercy — in whatever ways God calls us to do so — we use his gifts wisely. We sow in others what God has sown in us. We multiply our spiritual talents, and God makes us more and more fruitful for his kingdom.
But if we do not use our spiritual gifts we lose them. "So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given ... but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away" (28-29).
My salvation depends upon whether I invest and multiply my "spiritual talents" in others. It is only when each of us collaborates with the work of the Holy Spirit that the mission of Jesus Christ advances.
Bishop David Zubik is an apostle to us. As such, his role is to shepherd our talents for the sake of spreading the Gospel.
That is why he is calling us to be On Mission for The Church Alive! He is spurring us to extend his apostolic mission to everyone. He is telling us that we may not bury our talents. We have to invest them and make them multiply. And we cannot wait to do this.
We hear about fewer people attending Mass. We hear about the drop in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We hear about the decrease in healthy marriages. We hear about declining sacramental participation. And we hear about the diminishing resources for ministry throughout the diocese.
Our response can’t be to wonder why someone isn’t doing something about all this. Our response must be: what am I doing about this? What are we doing about this?
Jesus is not calling you and me to be mere consumers of grace. By our baptism he is asking us to be his instruments of grace to others.
Therrien is diocesan secretary for evangelization and Catholic education.