This week’s gospel tells the parable of the master who entrusts his property to his servants while he is away abroad. Each receives a different number of talents, according to their ability. The parable tells us that the one who received five talents made five more. The one who received two made two more but the one who received one was frightened and buried the talent until his master returned. As always the gospel parables can be read and interpreted in so many different ways. That is why they are lasting texts and can be returned to again and again with new insights being gained each time.
As I read this parable today it talks to me about our faith communities, parishes and diocese and how we have been entrusted with such incredible gifts. It reminds me that we are at a time when we are in need of new investments of our talents in order to continue the gospel mission entrusted to us by Jesus.
Our world and our society has changed so much that we cannot just sit back and bury our talent. We cannot simply do the things that we have always done, in the same way and expect to spread the gospel to the next generation. New investments of time and talent are called for in order to bring about a gospel culture in our communities. Pope Francis has reflected on this in Evangelii Gaudium:
I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself (Evangelii Gaudium 27)
We are going through some structural changes in our parishes and diocese at the moment. The measure of their success will indeed be whether or not the ‘missionary option’ dreamt about by Pope Francis can be achieved. We are currently transitioning the governance of our parish schools to the newly formed Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Limited. The dream is that with an administrative load removed from parishes we will be able to concentrate more fully on pastoral and gospel inspired activity.
We are also discussing at the parish level, ways in which we can better collaborate across the parishes of Camberwell, Balwyn, Deepdene, and Surrey Hills Wattle Park. The dream is that the diversity across our parishes can open up possibilities for many more expressions of faith within our communities. Our newly formed Social Justice Network is one example of people coming together from across our parishes in order to work for common, gospel inspired areas of social justice.
I am hoping that we can find more ways of sharing the rich talents of our parishes and parishioners over the coming year.
This week’s parable reminds us that we are not just care-takers of our talents but risk-takers in the name of gospel proclamation.
Fr Brendan Reed