Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Every day of our lives is filled with choices. Most of the time the choices are simple, ordinary decisions which are part of everyone's day. We choose what to eat for breakfast, what route we take to work, whether or not to cut the grass today, what time to go to bed. True, some of the choices we make are routine; we choose to do the same thing that we have always done.
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus makes the statement that he has chosen us. We are the chosen rather than the one doing the choosing. I think of this text often in the context of life's choices. There is a popular hymn that states: I have decided to follow Jesus (attributed to S. Sundar Singh). Perhaps most of us think in these terms; namely, that it has been our decision to become loving servants of Jesus. St. John's Gospel would seem to contradict that sentiment.
Many aspects of vocational choices have to do with personal preference, skills, talents, and the ability to complete the necessary preparation. Someone who has great difficulty with mathematics is probably not going to opt for a life in accounting. Another person who has a phobia of heights is not going to be a construction worker for a company that specializes in building skyscrapers. However, in the case of answering a call from God, the Gospel emphasizes that the initiative comes from God. We simply choose to accept the call or to ignore it.
Every year around this time, our diocesan media floods the newspapers and web sites with stories about the men who will be ordained this spring. It is interesting to note that many of those stories will speak of the fact that the ordinand had grappled with the vocational choice for some years before accepting it. It would seem that God's choices are not always our own.
Of course, the other thing that comes to my mind when I read this statement is to remember that choosing one's vocation is not a reason for pride. "Look at me; I have been chosen." When thoughts like this crowd into our minds, it is a good idea to consider some of those who have been chosen before us. God's choice is usually not the most likely. The list of "misfits" who have been chosen is long. It is important to remember that God chooses the weak and makes them strong to show that it is God's work, not ours, that is at issue in vocational choice.