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Pope: Fear Discourages Initiative

Need Trust to Move Forward on Life’s Journey

Pope Francis spoke before the Angelus on November 19, 2017, in St. Peter’s Square, of the parable of the talents from Matthew’s Gospel, pointing the need to overcome fear and grow in trust. In the parable, a master leaves on a journey, giving each of three servants “coins of notable value” to invest in his absence.

“The servant that received five talents was entrepreneurial and made them yield, earning another five,” the Holy Father explained. “The servant who received two behaved in the same way and earned another two. Instead, the servant that received one dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s coin.”

Why did the third servant fail so miserably?  The Holy Father explains that the servant suffered from fear and lack trust.

“This servant doesn’t have a relationship of trust with his master but is afraid of him, and this blocks him,” Francis said. “Fear always immobilizes and often makes one carry out mistaken choices.

“Fear discourages one from taking initiatives; it induces one to take refuge in secure and guaranteed solutions, and thus one ends by not doing anything good. One must not be afraid; one must have trust to go forward and to grow in life’s journey.”

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The Pope’s Remarks before the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this penultimate Sunday of the Liturgical Year, the Gospel presents the parable of the talents (Cf. Matthew 25:14-30). Before leaving on a journey, a man gave his servants talents, which at the time were coins of notable value: to one servant five talents, to another two, and to another one, according to each one’s ability. The servant that received five talents was entrepreneurial and made them yield, earning another five. The servant who received two behaved in the same way and earned another two. Instead, the servant that received one dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s coin.

It’s this same servant that explained to his master, on his return, the reason for his gesture, saying: “Lord, I know you are a hard man, who reap where you have not sown and gather where you have not winnowed. I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground (vv. 24-25). This servant doesn’t have a relationship of trust with his master but is afraid of him, and this blocks him. Fear always immobilizes and often makes one carry out mistaken choices.” Fear discourages one from taking initiatives; it induces one to take refuge in secure and guaranteed solutions, and thus one ends by not doing anything good. One must not be afraid; one must have trust to go forward and to grow in life’s journey.

This parable makes us understand how important it is to have a true idea of God. We must not think that He is a wicked master, hard and severe who wants to punish us. If this mistaken image of God is within us, then our life can’t be fecund because we’ll live in fear and this won’t lead us to anything constructive, rather, fear paralyzes us, it’s self-destructive. We are called to reflect to discover what is truly our idea of God. Already in the Old Testament He revealed Himself as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). And Jesus always showed us that God isn’t a severe and intolerant master, but a Father full of love, of tenderness, a Father full of goodness. Therefore we can and must have immense trust in Him.

Jesus shows us the generosity and care of the Father in many ways: with His word, with His gestures, with His reception of all, especially of sinners, little ones and the poor – as the World Day of the Poor reminds us today –; but also with His admonitions, which reveal His interest so that we won’t waste our life uselessly. In fact, it’s a sign that God esteems us greatly: this awareness helps us to be responsible persons in all our actions. Therefore, the parable of the talents calls us to a personal responsibility and a fidelity that becomes also the capacity to set out continually on new paths, without burying our talent, namely, the gifts that God has entrusted to us, and of which He will ask us to account.

May the Holy Virgin intercede for us, so that we remain faithful to the Will of God, making the talents fructify with which He has gifted us. Thus we will be useful to others and, on the last day, the Lord will receive us, <and> will invite us to take part in His joy.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Jim Fair

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