Father Joseph V. Corpora, CSC | January 30, 2018
A man went to confession every month. One month he said to the priest, “I am not sure of what to say today. I haven’t done anything this month.” The priest replied, “I am glad you came to confession. Doing nothing is a very serious sin.”
Many of us have been brought up to believe that the goal of a Christian life is to avoid making mistakes. While it is important that we try to refrain from doing harmful things, inactivity and not making mistakes is not the goal of our faith.
God created each of us with talents and abilities, and he wants us to use our talents to serve each other and build a community of faith, compassion and mercy. Jesus praises those who try, those who make an attempt, those who risk and those who work.
The Olympic Games feature athletes who spend years perfecting their skills, practicing at odd hours and making many financial and emotional sacrifices to pursue their goals. Olympic athletes have learned to grow from their failures, to see that it is better to have competed and come in second than to protect an imaginary winning record by never competing.
In the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus severely criticizes the servant who congratulated himself for not risking his master’s money. Jesus opposes fear. The one who refused to invest the talent he was given didn’t fail to invest because he was selfish. He failed to invest because he was afraid. Fear keeps us from being truly alive and from sharing the gifts that God has given us. We cannot listen to those voices of fear. Fear is often the first cousin of sin.
The apostles could have stayed in Palestine after Jesus’ resurrection. They could have argued that other people were not quite ready to hear the Gospel. They might have stressed the personal dangers that preaching the Gospel can bring. But no, they went everywhere they could to proclaim the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
According to tradition, all the apostles except John died as martyrs, most of them outside of Palestine. They rejected a life based on the illusion of avoiding risk. The largest category of saints within our Church is martyrs. Following Jesus may not mean martyrdom for most of us, but it will always involve some risk.