Taking a Chance: A Reflection from the Christian Traditions Posted November 14, 2020 by admin@interfaith


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November 14, 2020
Taking a Chance
A Reflection from the Christian Traditions
Matthew 25:14-30
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
                If the unexamined life is not worth living, the unexplored life is a tragedy. At the heart of exploration is risk-taking. Imagine the first people who discovered fire, medicines, and the wheel. Imagine the moment when humans discovered love for another at the expense of self. Risk-taking is the sum and substance of inventiveness, creativity, and what makes life worth living. Flipping a light switch, turning on a computer, answering a phone, are all the result of those who dared to think outside the box. They took a chance. They risked failure and ridicule while they changed the World. The risk takers seize the day with their ingenuity and courage. The World is a better place because risk-takers were willing to take a chance on what might be. The Master settling accounts with those indebted to him (Matthew 25: 14-30) is quite severe in his judgment of those he entrusted. What is shocking in the parable is the low regard the Master has for success and overwhelming wealth. The successful investors in the parable have gained overwhelming wealth as the result of their risk-taking. The Master calls the great momentary achievements of his clients “trivial” even as he praises their wise investment skills (they were risk-takers).   The Master desires to place his clients, who have been faithful with “insignificant” matters, in charge of what is loftier.

              This is stunning. What could be more important than money, power, wealth, and status? Some of us even pray to achieve and amass “the trivial and insignificant.” At this point, the Gospel of Matthew propels us to a higher consciousness of life, which will unfold in verses 31-40. We cannot help but remember the warning implicit in Matthew 16: 26. No amount of wealth or success is more important than one’s own life. The life worth living, according to Jesus, is the one involving taking risks.  

              The last client to report to the Master was seemingly afraid of his own shadow. Fear and accountability forced him to secure the money he received from his Master. Afraid of suffering loss, he took no risk. He compromised his talents deciding to be secure rather than suffer loss. The Master confronts his client as gutless, indecisive, lacking in courage. The severe consequences he suffers shock us. The Master’s complaint has nothing to do with investment strategies but the willingness to take a risk. As the adage goes, “I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.”
              Many, if not all, of us have experienced failure. We might judge ourselves too harshly. While failure can be the consequence of irresponsibility, more often than not, it is the result of courage, commitment, and love. In the real World, where people are more important than wealth, power, money, and status, failed effort is the measure of great love, care, and dedication. Great people have often failed to achieve their dreams. I think of one elderly man who said to me, “I wanted to wipe out World hunger, but all I could do is feed a few.” Perhaps, if I were not so afraid of failure, I would do something momentous. 
               Blessings to you Holy Community for risking failure in your service and care of one another. May the realization of your efforts transform your perceived failures into great blessings.