“When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”
Jesus challenges us with these words in Sunday’s Gospel passage. Are we doing only the bare minimum in our relationship with Christ and His Church? Are we motivated by a sense of begrudging obligation, faithful attention to our duties, or love of Christ? Our response to this question reveals much of the disposition of our hearts. It will also reveal how we go about our lives as Christians. If our hearts are not in it, our practice of the faith will be dull, uninspired, and uninspiring. But are we satisfied with being minimalist Christians? Wouldn’t we rather strive for heroic virtues and seek to inspire others as we have been inspired?
We strive, as Catholics, to live our faith with a sincere desire to grow closer to God and the Church and to inspire others to grow closer to God. We are asked to spend our time in service of others in whatever capacity we can manage, in imitation of Christ and out of concern for the poor, even if we are poor ourselves. No matter what my station in life might be, I can live for God and for others in a heroic way. My faith should energize my every action, and my every action should contribute to the upbuilding of our Church and society.
Our modern world has little respect for the Church and Her mission; part of this is due to the scandal of sins of public Christians, but part of it is also due to our own lack of healthy, public expressions of our faith. Our little acts of charity go a long way to healing the wounds of sin and division. Our heroic displays of generosity, courage, and solidarity go even farther! Our world desperately needs to see Saints. Sainthood demands more from us than bare minimum effort. I ask you to meditate this week on how we can go beyond the Five Precepts of the Church, the minimum expected of us as Catholic Christians, and live them to a heroic level for the sake of inspiring others to greater faith. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to do more than what we are obliged to do, and to do it all with great love.
Peace in Christ,
Father Matthew Kuhn
p.s. The 5 Precepts of the Church (Catechism #2041-43) are:
1. Taking part in the Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and resting from servile labor on the same,
2. Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) at least once a year,
3. Receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least once in the Easter Season,
4. Observing the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church (eating only one meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; avoiding meat on Fridays),
5. Providing for the needs of the Church (giving at least 10% of our time, talent, and treasure for the Church and those in need)
(Catholic Extra Credit: The Baltimore Catechism also listed a sixth precept: Observe the Marriage Laws of the Church.)