Summary: Gifts from God must be developed to the maximum as we reject minimalism.
Parable of the Talents
Becoming a Maximum Christian
All Gods gifts, indeed all goodness and love we receive, are for us to develop to the maximum and so provide for increase in God’s Kingdom. That’s the message I would leave with you today. Become a “maximalist,” not a minimalist to prepare for the final judgment while seeking fulfillment here on earth. Be totally obedient to Christ, who is the way, the Truth and the Life. Not just to the teachings we agree with, but all Christ’s teachings including to the authority of the church, the believers, the people of God. We ourselves are not the measure of truth, Jesus is. So to be a maximalist, we must be totally committed to the truth that resides in the person of Christ.
Maybe we can resolve to be good, kind and considerate to our families and our friends, but to our enemies? Yes, we must be concerned for all of God’s creation and the fact that Jesus came to heal sinners. Our example is to be the witness of Christ on earth. We must seek justice, not revenge.
Two servants in the Parable of the Talents made the most of their God-given gifts according to their abilities, and their master joyfully rewarded them. The servants appeared to be pleased with their efforts, saying to the master in effect Look!,... I have doubled your money!
These servants overcame any fear they may have had of losing the money entrusted to them, working zealously to bring about a good return to the Master, who promotes them, and shares his joy with them for having doubled the investment in them.
A third servant didn’t even try to make the most of the gift for him to manage according to his ability while the master was away, a substantial sum of money known as a talent that was equal to a laborer’s wage for about 20 years, almost the work of a modern lifetime. The servant buried it instead so it could be returned just as he received it from his master. Then there could be no criticism of any risks he might have taken so that the talent was lost. He was doing the least he could and presuming that minimum effort would be acceptable.
Perhaps the third servant really believed he was doing enough for his master. In Jesus’ time, servants entrusted with a master’s goods were expected to make them increase, however. The parable of the Unprofitable Servants makes that point clearly. It is not enough to do only what one is required to do in order to be a useful or profitable servant (Luke 17: 7-10.)
Many of those who say they are disciples of Christ also look for the minimum they must do to live self-indulgently on earth and still reach heaven, wanting to go the easy way, rather than through the narrow gate of fully committed discipleship, observing all of Jesus’ teachings. I would encourage you today to seek the narrow gate instead of becoming a minimalist. Do the most you can as a servant of God rather the least. Consider what you have not done yet for Christ that you could still do, thus doing all you can for a fulfilling, purposeful and meaningful earthly life and moreover for eternal life free in heaven from the pain and suffering of our mortal body to be replaced by joy in God’s presence.
People in all vocations of life can increase the gifts they have, applying them to their studies,their work, their church, family and friends- anyone in need. They can uplift all they come in contact with, giving them good advice and encouraging them to persevere against obstacles. College students, for example, are tempted to buy term papers instead of doing original work, yet they learn more by studying honestly. Fellow students can convince potential cheaters they will benefit more from doing their own work, in virtue as well as in secular knowledge. But everyone can volunteer more extensively for work in the Church. From the positive results of the volunteering, people will be able to discern the gifts God has given them. That discernment itself is one of God’s important gifts to us.
This Parable of the Talents is not just about earthly investments, it is about the divine as well as natural gifts we all receive as investments from the Holy Spirit. Chief among them is charitable love- the oil in the lamps of the wise and foolish virgins mentioned in the preceding parable, and the works of mercy. St. Augustine says that it is ‘a love that one receives as a gift..., preserves within oneself, and uses in works.’ (Cf. Discourses, 93, 4 ) http://www.zenit.org/article-33778?l=english
The fact that the unprofitable servant admits to being very afraid of his master prevented him from producing a return on the investment amount given him. Even if he was not as “talented” as the other two servants who doubled their master’s investment money, he could have given the money to bankers who would have returned it with interest. Not much better than minimalism, but a start toward maximalism.