The readings of this Sunday reveal God’s love for us which is manifested through his free choice, making us a chosen people. But how conscious are we of our dignity of being desired? And how do we respond to the value and trust expressed in such election? Come along with me, and together, let’s discover the richness which has been bestowed upon us.
Bible readings Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48 Psalm 98: 1-4 1 John 4: 7-10 John 15: 9-17
Wait a minute! Is it a rewind?
For those who have been following closely the liturgical readings may probably react to say: isn’t this rewinding the clock? We are in full season of Easter, and instead of having something about the resurrection what we get is the farewell discourse that Jesus already addressed to his disciples before his passion and death. Aren’t we in a go round that seems to bring us back to the point of departure?
Anyhow, this time we orient our attention no longer to the passion, death and resurrection but to Ascension, which is the return of Jesus to the Father. That’s the pedagogy of liturgical setting which spaces out the resurrection, ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus, in his goodbye message, all he wants to tell disciples is that he loves them just as the Father loves him. He wishes that this same ambience of love reign among the disciples; so he exhorts them: “love one another.” However, what I find most striking is this element of choice that comes to give a face to love. Let’s journey together in this love-choice reflection.
I want, but I hesitate, to use the verb “to elect”
When I think of the verb, to choose, another verb that pops up is, to elect. But then I realise that the verb to elect may not sound that famous especially that we use it often to refer to choosing leaders in public office. That risks evoking a kind of aversion, given the disappointment we may have suffered. Of course, there are elected leaders who have honoured the choice and the trust placed in them, nevertheless, there are many also who have abused that trust, forgetting the aspirations and needs of the people who voted them into office. That’s why the word may leave us with a bad taste. Anyway, we shall not allow that to rob us of the occasion to get edified by the richness of this verb.
What is to elect?
To elect is also to choose. And when you choose, you pick out of many options. You pick out someone for yourself, for a purpose. There you realise that we elect not only persons for public office; we also elect persons for relationships. Out of many, you choose a person for a friend. Think of making a choice for a spouse; out of many men or many women; you pick one whom you want to spend life with. You affirm the value of the person you choose, and you place your trust in them. It’s a decision of love. Indeed, love is a decision because it’s a choice. Isn’t that the case when a couple decides to have a child? In their choice is a full project of love even before the child is born –the baby yet to be conceived is however elected already. Evidently, the verb to elect is not just about people out there as, such as those in public office –it’s about us all.
In some way, we are all chosen –we have been elected. How thrilling to know I have been chosen, freely and out of love; by my parents, by my spouse or by a friend! Then, naturally, a question just arises: but how am I honouring this experience of being chosen in love?
It’s in the light of such intimate interaction between love and choice that I sense the warmth of this Sunday’s word of God.
You are elected in love
Jesus chose persons, each with his own history, to be his disciples and loved them as the Father loved him. He chose them not only to be his disciples; he went further to make them his friends. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love… I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father…You did not choose me but I chose you.” This generous choice of love we find it also in the First reading.
At the time when everyone thinks salvation is for the Jewish people, with interactions controlled by firm boundaries, between chosen people and gentiles; God revels his election –the choice of love that shatters the wall of separation. Those who were once despised as pagans are now seen in new light as elected to be heirs of God’s salvation, as Peter confesses: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Thanks to such election we too have become chosen people. And so we can exclaim with John: “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!” (1Jn 3:1).
We are beneficiaries and actors of the choice in love
For each one of us, the message is simple: I have been chosen in love. And so I can only ask myself: how conscious am I of the value and the trust which have been placed in me through such election? And how am I honouring this choice in my life? One way to do it, indeed, it’s to elect others in love as I have been. There you have a feel of Jesus’ commandment: “Love one another as I have loved.”
Want new posts in your email box? Just subscribe above; it’s free!
See also other posts: