“But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” [Mt. 25:18].
Have you ever wondered why we call our Sunday gatherings “the Mass?” Mass is an English rendering of the Latin term “missa.” In Latin, the Mass ends with the words “Ite, missa est,” which simply means, “Go forth, you are sent.” The name “Mass,” therefore, implies that we are focused on being sent on a mission by Our Lord. We do not go to Mass simply to fulfill a Sunday obligation; we go in order to worship God and to receive His many graces so that we can go back out into the world and continue in our sacred mission for Christ. This is something that cannot be emphasized enough.
We have a mission in life to be a light in this dark world and to spread the teachings of Jesus so that others may come to a saving knowledge of the truth. If our Catholicism consists only of attending weekly Mass while pursuing the things of this world all week long, we are showing ourselves to be ignorant of what it means to be a follower of the Christ.
When we were baptized into Christ, we were also baptized into His service. All those who desire to follow Christ must also participate in the mission of Christ – a mission that involves living the Catholic Faith in our daily lives and using our gifts and talents for the glory of God.
When I was 19 years old, I worked in an office with a young woman who was a few years older than me. Her name was Jo Ellen. Jo Ellen was a devout Catholic. She was one of the nicest people I had ever encountered in my life. What struck me was that she was only a few years older than me. She didn’t walk around the office telling people that they were on their way to Hell. She didn’t pass out Gospel tracts or shove verses of Scripture down people’s throats as some Christians of other denominations are wont to do. She simply lived the Catholic life. I remember being drawn to her light and wanting to be like her because at 19 years of age, I was anything but devout. I didn’t turn my life back to God until I was 21 years old, but I never forgot Jo Ellen and the example she set in the office.
Jo Ellen obviously took her mission for Christ seriously. She lived the Catholic life before the rest of us in the office and was such a light to those of us who were living in darkness that I’ve never forgotten her even though it has been 31 years since I last saw her. She made the Gospel attractive to us simply by living it before us day in and day out. This is the first and most important way in which we are all called to fulfill our mission for Christ.
The second way in which we are called to spread the Gospel and to bring light to the world is by using the gifts and talents which Christ has given to us for this purpose. Jesus didn’t save us to simply sit; He saved us to serve.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells the story of a man who was about to go on a long journey. Before he left, he called his servants and entrusted his property to them. He gave each of them a sum of money and expected them to invest that money so that when he returned, he would receive more than that which was initially given to them. He gave a certain sum of money to his first servant, who immediately went out, invested it, and gained even more money for his master. He then gave some money to his second servant, who did the same. But when he placed some money into the hand of his last servant, the servant chose not to invest it. Instead, he dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. When the master returned, his first two servants were rewarded, but the third servant was punished.
Jesus taught us this parable in order to remind us that all of us who are baptized in Him are called to be stewards of the truth and life of grace which we have been given. It is expected that when we are baptized in Christ, our lives will be transformed by Christ so that we will be the light of the world that He has called us to be. This sanctification is a life-long process; it doesn’t happen instantaneously at the moment of our Baptism. Our job is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, as He brings about the changes that are necessary in our lives so that we truly reflect Christ. This is the first and most important way in which we are called to be stewards of truth and grace.
As mentioned earlier, the second way in which we are called to demonstrate good stewardship is by using the different skills, talents, and abilities Christ has given to us in order to build up His Church and lead men to Christ.
If we don’t understand that every single individual has been called to do his or her part in the Church’s mission, we will make the mistake that many are making by simply believing that all that Christ requires of them is attendance at weekly Mass and nothing more. Sadly, many Catholics are not cooperating with the Holy Spirit in their lives. As a result, their lives are remaining unchanged year after year. They have been deceived by the devil into believing that just going to Mass every now and then is all that is required of them to make it to Heaven. They don’t understand that to be a Catholic means to actively participate in the sacred mission of Christ’s Catholic Church, first, by living the Catholic life and then by using our talents for the glory of Christ.
Each time we go to Mass, this is what is implied. “Ite, missa est,”, “Go forth, you are sent,” is a reminder to us that we are being sent on a sacred mission by Our Lord.
Our Beloved Master has gone on a long journey. Over two thousand years ago, He returned to His Father in Heaven, but He has promised that one day He will return. He has entrusted His property to all of us who were baptized in Him. That property is the truth and life of grace within us, given to us for the purpose of multiplying it so that more will be gained for the Master’s glory and His Kingdom.
The man who took the master’s property, dug a hole in the ground, and simply hid it is the man who is baptized into Christ, receives the Sacraments, hears the Gospel preached week in and week out, but whose life remains unchanged anyway because he refuses to put into practice anything he has learned and refuses to surrender his life to the Holy Spirit. He refuses to cooperate with God’s grace. He has shown himself to be a poor steward of God’s truth and gift of grace. The man in Jesus’ parable wasn’t cast into Hell because he didn’t teach a CCD class or refused to sign up for the choir. He was cast into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth, because he wasn’t even willing to apply the truth and grace of God to his daily life so that his very life would shine and persuade others for Christ. He did not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ; he only listened to it. He did not cooperate with God’s grace. As a result, his untransformed life failed, not only to bring glory to God, but to gain more souls for God as well. This man did not take his mission for the Master seriously.
In what way are you fulfilling the sacred mission entrusted to you? How are you being used by the Holy Spirit to gain even more for the Master than that which was entrusted to you at your Baptism?
Let us listen to Jesus’ sobering words, brothers and sisters, for the time of His return is very near. As Catholics, we believe that the Catholic Church is the true church and that the Catholic Faith is the true faith. We have been given the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, the Sacraments, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Every single day at Mass the Holy Scriptures are read. We have the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as the teachings of our Beloved Saints over a span of two thousand years. We have countless classic Catholic books, as well as the encyclicals of our beloved popes. We have no excuse for being unfruitful, unproductive, and most of all, untransformed by the power of God. This is the property which has been entrusted to us. What are we doing with it? How are we using it in such a way so that more will be gained for the Master’s glory and Kingdom?
Soon, the Master will return in order to settle accounts with His servants. Let us listen to what He has warned in the Parable of the Talents, and let us apply this teaching while the light is still with us. For soon, it will be night…
…when no man can work.
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