ROME — Pope Francis underscored Christianity’s entrepreneurial character Sunday, insisting that good Christians are those who generously take risks and put their talents to work.
“In the Gospel, good servants are those who take risks,” the pontiff told the faithful gathered for Sunday Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. “They are not fearful and overcautious, they do not cling to what they possess, but put it to good use.”
The pope was reflecting on the gospel reading of the day that recounts Jesus’ parable of the talents, in which a master entrusts three servants with his property while he embarks on a journey. On returning, he calls in his servants to find what return they have made on his money. The master praises two servants who invested his money and doubled it, while chastising the third servant who buried the money and made nothing.
“For if goodness is not invested, it is lost, and the grandeur of our lives is not measured by how much we save but by the fruit we bear,” Francis said. “How many people spend their lives simply accumulating possessions, concerned only about the good life and not the good they can do.”
“Yet how empty is a life centered on our needs and blind to the needs of others!” he added. “The reason we have gifts is so that we can be gifts for others.”
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As he has done on other occasions, the pope noted that the Christian life is essentially about doing good and not just about avoiding evil.
“It is significant that fully four times those servants who invested their talents, who took a risk, are called ‘faithful,’” he said. “For the Gospel, faithfulness is never risk-free.”
“Taking risks: there is no faithfulness without risk. Fidelity to God means handing over our life, letting our carefully laid plans be disrupted by our need to serve,” he said.
“It is sad when Christians play a defensive game, content only to observe rules and obey commandments,” Francis noted. “Those ‘moderate’ Christians who never go beyond boundaries, never, because they are afraid of risk.”
“Following rules is not enough; fidelity to Jesus is not just about not making mistakes, this is quite wrong,” he added. “That is what the lazy servant in the parable thought: for lack of initiative and creativity, he yielded to needless fear and buried the talent he had received.”
The pope went on to note a paradox: the master calls the lazy servant “evil” despite the fact that he had technically done nothing wrong, because he had failed to act.
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“The master actually calls him ‘wicked.’ And yet he did nothing wrong! But he did nothing good either,” the pope reflected. “He preferred to sin by omission rather than to risk making a mistake.”
“He was not faithful to God, who spends freely, and he made his offence even worse by returning the gift he had received. ‘You gave me this, and I give it to you,’ nothing more,” he said.
“The Lord, for his part, asks us to be generous, to conquer fear with the courage of love, to overcome the passivity that becomes complicity,” he said.