In spite of its apparent innocence, the parable of the talents holds an explosive power. Surprisingly, the third servant is condemned without having done anything bad. His only mistake consists in not doing anything: he doesn’t take risks with his talent, he doesn’t get it to bear fruit, he preserves it intact in its safe place.
Jesus’ message is clear. No to conservatism, yes to creativity. No to a sterile life, yes to the active response to God. No to the obsession for security, yes to the effort that dares to transform the world. No to a faith buried under conformism, yes to work committed to opening up paths to God’s Reign.
The great sin of Jesus’ followers would always be not daring to follow him in a creative way. It’s significant to observe the language that has been used among Christians over the years, in order to see what we have often focused our attention on: preserving the deposit of faith, preserving our tradition, preserving our good habits, preserving grace, preserving our vocation…
This temptation of conservatism is stronger in times of religious crisis. It’s easy in such times to invoke the need to control orthodoxy, to strengthen discipline and norms, to keep people in the Church… All this can be justified, but isn’t it all too frequently a way of weakening the Gospel and freezing the creativity of the Spirit?
For religious leaders and those responsible for Christian communities, it could be safer to monotonously ‘repeat’ the inherited ways of the past, ignoring the questions, contradictions, and thinking of people today; but where does all this get us if we aren’t capable of transmitting light and hope to the problems and sufferings that shake the lives of men and women of today?
The attitudes we need to cultivate today within the Church aren’t called «prudence», «faithfulness to the past», «resignation»… They go rather by other names: «creative searching», «boldness», «risk-taking», «listening to the Spirit», things that make everything new.
What happened to the parable’s third servant could be what’s most serious: we too believe that we are faithfully responding to God with our conservative attitude, when we are actually betraying God’s expectations. The main task of the Church today can’t be to conserve the past, but to learn to communicate the Good News of Jesus in a society shaken by unprecedented socio-cultural changes.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf