Perhaps the last verse of the Gospel suggests that a minimum has been done by the slave (“all you have been commanded”), and therefore the servant can only say “we are unprofitable servants.” The unprofitable servant is the one who received the master’s coin and then buried it, making no profit like the other two servants in that parable. It is a mere minimalistic obligation. The servant has not gone above and beyond what was asked.

It is the modern Catholic who only has to confess that a Sunday Mass was missed, nothing more. When the entire rest of the commandments are left unaddressed. Humans are often minimalists. The faithful servant of the gospel goes well beyond the mere expectations, and serves the gospel by a clear and decisive faith in practice. This servant of the gospel makes a profit in the sense that this servant is an evangelizer, profiting the reign of God by bringing others to Jesus and to the Eucharist.

So the profitable servant, like Timothy, stirs into flame the gift of service and ministry that God gave and is profitable for the reign of God. In the same way, the vision of Habakkuk calls the prophet to remember the vision, something always more grand that the mere minimalism.

It seems this is an important distinction to make on the way to Jerusalem for those following Jesus. In Jerusalem, the confrontation with the rulers of this world will demand of them something more than mere minimalism.

Imagine, for example, attending a concert, and the performers gave just a merely “flat” concert, not putting that extra “oomph” we all go to expect fro them that is real entertainment. Soon that performing group would be out of a job. But when a performer/artist/actor gets up that enthusiasm we not only know it by sensing, but we then also enter into it.

The parish I work in is blessed in this way with a pianist who brings that extra intangible something to her playing, and we have a cantor who can move people to tears at a communion song by the power and control of his voice. That’s the profitable steward. That would be Timothy at his pastoral best, remembering the day of his laying on of hands.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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