I wonder what effect this constant state of being evaluated has on our lives. Of course it is good to take stock of our lives, celebrate our accomplishments, and reach for greater growth and achievement. But does striving for the competitive advantage in society tend to skew our values in a certain direction and away from others? Does our effort to create a picture of ourselves cause us to lose sight of the real person we are? The gospel this week suggests that we take a look at what real success might mean and how we might accomplish it.
The master in the story who goes away on a trip entrusts his huge fortune to three servants. He trusts them all and believes in their potential. Two of the servants, seemingly unconcerned about how much the others were given, take up the master’s mission, using what they have learned from him and imitating how he goes about his business. They have appropriated his values. They don’t say what they think about him, but their actions show their attitude.
The third servant, perhaps in response to the way he compares himself to the others, wants to have as little as possible to do with his master’s business. The gospel writer lets us know he thinks his master is a hard man who expects results. He is not sure he can deliver, so out of fear, motivated by self-protection, he avoids any risk and goes and buries what the master had invested in him.
When the master returns, the first two servants can’t wait to show him the fruit of their labors, in effect saying that they had learned from him, and that by allowing them to share in his business venture, faithfully following his way of life, they had become more like him. They share his joy. Sadly, the third is stuck making excuses. He has not come to know his master, hasn’t appreciated what the master offers, and his fear has defined his destiny.
Friends, our God is calling us to a life of abundant joy. Does the “brag sheet” we keep on file in our minds really give the comprehensive picture of us that we want God to see? Does our concern about competing and being evaluated send us in the wrong direction, chasing after things that can never be the source of our joy? Do you sometimes think that you don’t have anything to offer to God? Does your fear of what others or God will think about you cause you to bury God’s investment in you, instead of taking the risks that enable it to grow? The good news is that it’s never too late to take that next step toward sharing the life that only God offers.
Take Your Next Step:
Take some time to think about how you evaluate yourself. Is it by achievements? What others think of you? How much money you make? The joy you bring to others? Think about what holds you back from taking the next step in growing in faith. What are you afraid of? Ask God to help you overcome your fear, and take one step out of your comfort zone this week. Maybe say hello to someone you’ve never met. Volunteer for something. Celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation (go to confession). Sing at Mass! Share your master’s joy.