We all know the parable of the talents (Mt 25:-14-30). The master of the house is going on a road trip. On his way out the door, he gives some of his money to three of his servants. It seems to be some kind of financial planning test because they are given different amounts, “each according to his ability.”
After a long time, the master returns and wants his money back. Servant One returns double the amount he was given. Servant Two, who had received less, also returns double his amount. And Servant Three, who received the least, returns the exact amount he was given. No growth. In fact, if you account for inflation, the money was probably worth less than when he first received it.
How did you come into RCIA ministry?
Of course, this story is not about money. It is about your role in initiation ministry. Seriously. Think about how you came to this ministry. Someone invited you. That someone might have looked like Marge who is the parish RCIA coordinator or Fr. Dan, the pastor. But those are just disguises. The someone who invited you is the Master. Jesus comes to us in the guise of other members of the Body to call us to use our gifts for the sake of the reign of God.
Assuming you said yes to the call (you’re reading this, right?), you had at least two different ways you could have said yes:
- Yes, Marge, I will help you because I like you, and I think I should do my part around the parish.
- Yes, Lord, I will use the gifts you gave me to help others learn about you and become one with you.
The first response is a Servant Three response. When we believe our call is from Marge or Fr. Dan or whoever, and we are merely helping them with their call, we are burying our gifts in the ground. What we “return” to the Lord will be pretty much what we started off with in the first place.
The second response is a Servant Two or Servant One response. We hear the invitation as a call from the Master to maximize our gifts. We are constantly looking for ways to invest ourselves in the mission and grow the value of our message of good news to the world.
Bring your own gifts to ministry
At TeamRCIA, we hold the concept of being called by God as a core value for initiation ministers. We believe it is a core value because whatever our call, at its root, it is a call to holiness. A Level 1 Servant is one who can say to God, “I have doubled my holiness from what I started out with.”
That sounds like bragging, but it’s not. The church teaches that is exactly what God expects of us — to grow our holiness. And not just grow a little. Our call is to perfect holiness.
Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord — each in his or her own way — to that perfect holiness by which the Father himself is perfect. (Constitution on the Church, 11)
Now if you’re like me, you have immediately thought of dozens people who are holier than we are. I mean, just sing the litany of saints if you want a real ego check. But the phrase each in his or her own way is key. We grow in holiness according to our own gifts and abilities, just as the servants invested their master’s money according to their own abilities.
For example, God gave Mother Teresa a bunch of gifts, and she was very holy. I’ll never be as holy as Mother Teresa. Fortunately, God does not expect that, otherwise God would have given me Mother Teresa gifts. God gave me a bunch of other gifts. If I am authentically answering the call from the Master (and not the invitation from Marge), I will do everything I can to maximize those gifts. That’s what it means to be holy in my own way. Pope Francis said:
To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. (On the Call to Holiness, 14)
You are not an initiation minister because Fr. Dan or Marge or someone in your parish asked you to be. You are who you are because God called you. You can use the gifts you have to grow and grow and grow. Some of us get a bit fearful of what might happen if we let our holiness grow. But there is nothing to fear. God, who gave us the gifts we have, will help us bring those gifts to fulfilment for the sake of the mission.
Who invited you into RCIA ministry? What gifts from God have you discovered about your life from your ministry? Share your thoughts in the comments below.