The last several Sundays we were given choices. They were all choices between self-fulfillment and Life on the one side AND self-destruction and death on the other.
We are to choose between giving God the produce of our work of bearing the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness) AND being dispossessed of everything we have. We are to choose between wearing the wedding garment of being purified of sin and being engaged in loving service of others AND being bound hands and feet and thrown out of the heavenly banquet hall. We are to choose between giving to God what is due to him and to Caesar what is due to the government AND be considered hypocrites by God. We are to choose between living out Jesus’ new commandment of loving each other as he loved us from the cross AND live a sterile life that leads to a joyless existence. We are to choose between practicing what we preach AND have our phoniness exposed. We are to choose between piling up a good supply of the oil of loving service of others AND be locked out of heaven.
That trend continues: we are to make an umpteenth choice between multiplying the talents entrusted to us AND be soundly condemned after even the little that we have will be taken away from us. The obvious first step is the one of identifying the talents that God has entrusted to us according to our ability. Some talents can become quickly obvious as we start going to school and then we get a job. Others are not so obvious and risk getting buried, never to be dug up again. A wise decision would be the one of stopping from time to time and, in the quiet of our “inner room,” discover in the light of the Holy Spirit our hidden talents. This habitual search should be combined with a humble, listening ear open to what people, such as parents, teachers, coaches, instructors tell us. Finally, to complete our inventory of talents we should explore those talents that are given to us by God in virtue of the Sacraments that we receive.
Indeed there are talents proper to Baptism like proclamation of the Gospel with our life and bearing witness to Christ wherever we happen to be. Others are proper to the Eucharist such as efforts to overcome our personal preferences to be acting as a Community of Faith, as the true Body of Christ in harmony and mutual cooperation and love. Even the Sacrament of Reconciliation has talents attached to it in the sense that we can use the healing touch of Christ to advise people close to us on how to avoid evil and do good. The obvious Sacraments enriched by abundant gifts are Holy Matrimony and Ordination, respectively giving us what we need to be good spouses/parents and good ministers (bishops, priests, and deacons).
OK. Once we have a relatively good knowledge of all the talents that we have received from God we have to exercise creativity in order to double them.
Creativity comes from the verb to create. That means to make something out of nothing. The servant given five talents “created” the second five out of nothing. So did the one entrusted with two: he made the second two out of nothing. Very seldom do we read or hear about the awesomeness of creativity in the context of our Christian calling. Over the course of my priestly ministry (48 + years so far) I have become a firm believer that creativity is not an optional attribute found in the personality makeup of a chosen few, but an essential virtue implanted in us by our Creator God.
Creativity is arguably the best proof we are expected to give of having been made in the image of God. Therefore, hopefully, what the Church offers as a challenge to our consideration, this very day, might jolt us enough to give creativity its due.
Creativity, if given a chance, will find a way to free itself from the confinements of a safe, risk-free lifestyle, of conformism, of false façades, of the sterile venues of disengagement. It springs up unexpectedly from the field where the seeds of the Gospel have found fertile soil. It grows best with the help of improvisation, spontaneity and child-like imagination, provided that it is not held back by the menace of crippling mistakes, and is totally free of fear of embarrassment.
The third servant is rebuked and soundly condemned to total dispossession even of the little that he had precisely because he just could not dare. He could not set his creativity free of fear and take sound, prudent, reasonable, well-calculated risks.
Creativity reminds us that we cannot play it safe when it comes to exercising stewardship of God’s plentiful talents entrusted to us. A conscience that is bogged down by an unhealthy sense of guilt and stifled due to the depletion of those energies that are drained by obsessions and compulsions is ill-equipped to overcome the doldrums of life, the grinding of daily routine and the temptation of putting off anything daring and bold.
What is life without the spice of creativity? Creativity makes the gift of ourselves to others that much more attractive and appreciated. With creativity we can transform birthdays into unforgettable events; make one feel truly special; impact an otherwise flat life with a unique compliment. With creativity we can light up the shadows stretching over the gloomy outlook of a depressed friend; we can dispel boredom and improvise a celebration for some wild reason, or no reason at all.
What is there that creativity cannot handle? With creativity a mom can even find clever ways to disguise loathed vegetables into something yummy for her kids’ dinner; she can spruce up the living room with old stuff from the attic and turn anything burdensome into a fun game. We should give free rein to our creativity to see it grow doing good.
For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.