Dear brothers and sisters
“You did not chose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last” -John 15:16
The apostles knew the truth of Jesus’ words. Surely each one could remember the day that he had been “called” to follow Jesus. Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishing when Jesus called them to his service. Matthew had been sitting at his tax collector’s desk. All of them had responded to his invitation, and left their source of livelihood for a new life. Later, after Jesus had spent a night in prayer, they were chosen for special service, and given the name “apostles” (Luke 6:12-13)Paul, likewise, could easily remember the day of his calling by Jesus, the day that he was struck down on the road to Damascus. “Then I said: who are you, Lord? And the Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason: to appoint you as my servant’ ” (Acts 26:15-16). Paul was chosen by Jesus even before he realized who Jesus was, and appointed to serve Jesus even while he was still persecuting him.
Today there is a necessary emphasis on our choosing Jesus Christ to be the Lord of our lives, on our making an adult commitment of our lives to God. Without this we may be no more than passive Christians without the desire and perseverance to make give God the first place in our lives. But the importance of our making this decision should not obscure a more basic truth: God chose us first, before we chose him.
If we had we not born into the faith or lived lives as if we had never known Jesus, He would have arranged our circumstances that we might hear His call and be drawn to Himself.
We have also been chosen for a particular service. A part of our call is our commission to bear lasting fruit. Like Paul, we have been appointed servants, and given a work to carry out. It may not be a work that we volunteered to do-or would want to volunteer to do, if we had a choice. But it is a work that Jesus asks us to do. If God asks then God equips; though His choices do not always make sense to man.
The twelve apostles were slow to accept Paul – the persecutor – as a fellow servant of Christ (Acts 9:26). God however, had a specific work in mind for Paul-the proclamation of the gospel to the gentiles-and needed a man of Paul’s character to carry it out. God’s plan for our own lives is not arbitrary. He knows us thoroughly, our strengths and weaknesses. He knows what gifts of service we have been given and knows how we fit into his plan of salvation. We need to freely assent to the service Jesus invites us to perform for him, and carry it out in hope and trust. We need to recognize that it is He who called us as servants, it is he who calls us to serve. “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
So as St. Paul says
“He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor 5:15)