Our faith is not meant to be locked away. It has been an interesting time being in lockdown. For some people there have been blessings and for some struggle and heartache, both physical and mental. We have been locked down from seeing family and friends, workplaces and leisure. The last weeks have seen happy reunions and (re)fresh beginnings. We know that we are not made for lockdown. We are made for interaction, for personal relationships and for community.
The Gospel today also reminds us that our faith is not made for lockdown. Our faith is not something to be buried away, hidden underground and kept spotless to be presented to the Lord at the end of time. Our faith is to be shared, productive and generative.
We have received a wonderful gift in the tradition handed down to us from the apostles and from one generation to the next. This gift is often referred to as the “deposit of faith”. The deposit of faith is that which we have received in scripture and tradition in and through Jesus Christ and preserved and lived out until today. As members of the Church we cherish and honour our faith, we “pray it” in liturgy and we “activate” it in works of charity. We seek to deepen our understanding of our faith and its implications for our lives year after year and generation after generation. That is why we regularly listen to the Word of God, honour it in beautifully bound and illustrated Gospel books, standing with candles burning just as the word burns in our hearts. That is why we pray before the blessed sacrament. That is why we respect and listen to theologians and bishops of the church who have delved into the history and tradition and refocus us on the event of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
But there is a danger too in having a deposit of faith. We can treat that deposit as if it is a static, complete and closed thing. We can treat it like we would precious items that we keep in a safety deposit box. We can lock it up and ensure that it is never touched; that it can only be accessed by key and code and that it will be carefully handed down to the next generation completely intact when we die.
Matthew seems to have another view. He uses that parable in today’s gospel to ask his community to see the tradition as dynamic, open and growing. It has a future orientation
As Brendan Byrne tells us:
“Some through fear, may think that they can get by simply by avoiding wrongdoing and giving back to God what they have received on a basis of strict justice (the third slave). But those who appreciate God as Jesus reveals God to be, have the freedom to live in the creative and adventurous way that is truly appropriate (the first two).
We too are faced with these options. We are in a particular time in the Church at the moment when we must make decisions about the future. What type of church will we be in a post-Christian Australia? What type of parish will we be? We can stand in awe at the deposit or we can creatively reach into it and bring out the gifts of the past, match them with our own ingenuity and creativity and build something new for the future.
What do you think? What is your attitude to the ‘deposit of faith’?