Wednesday May 14, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 1:15-17, 20-26) Gospel (St. John 15:9-17)
In the Gospel reading today, we see two points of great importance. The first point is that Our Lord has chosen each one of us. It is not we who have chosen Him, but He Who has chosen us. Of course, once we have been chosen, it is still necessary that we have to make our own choice. That is something that is incumbent upon each of us: to choose Christ, but to know that He has already chosen us, to know that we are so privileged and so loved by Our Lord that He has chosen each one of us individually. That is the wonderful thing about Our Lord. It was not just that there was a whole group of people there and He said, “Oh, I’ll take all these over here,” no, He looked at each one and called each one by name for you to know that you have been individually, specifically chosen by Our Lord – by name – because He knew you and He chose you for the purpose for which He has called you.
When we hear in the first reading “Let another take his office,” actually what it says is “Let another take his episcopate,” Let another take his bishopric, if you will, showing that in the early Church they recognized that the apostles were bishops; it is literally the word that is used there. And while we do not have the same office obviously as Matthias did – we are not necessarily called to be bishops (Let’s pray that the Lord doesn’t want any of us to do that!) –the fact of the matter is that we have each been chosen by the Lord for a specific purpose, the set design and purpose of the Lord.
Then the question that we need to figure out is: What is it that He wants us to do? Why did He choose us? What is the purpose? He has a reason; He does not do anything without a very particular purpose. And so each one of us needs to look at that in prayer and ask the question, first of all, “Why did the Lord choose me? What does He want?” And secondly, “Do I choose Him?” Once I am known, it is known that I have been chosen. And since He will never force anything on us, He allows us, then, to make the choice of whether or not we will accept, just as it was with Our Lady. God chose her from the beginning, and yet when it came time for her to conceive the Lord, she had to make the choice. Even though it was God’s choice from all eternity that He would create Our Lady for that purpose, she still had to choose and say “yes” to the angel. So too, each one of us, who have been chosen by Our Lord, needs now to make that same choice the other way. We have to be willing to say “yes” to whatever it is that He is asking.
Now we have to understand what it is going to entail. He told us that we have to love Him and we have to follow His commandments. Are we willing to do that? He tells us we will remain in His love as long as we follow His commandments, and then, of course, the interesting twist on it is that He says, “My commandment is this: that you love.” That is what He is asking of us, that we love, that we go beyond ourselves, that we seek only the good of God and neighbor, that we pour ourselves out. No greater love has a man than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends. Are we willing to do that? Because Jesus tells us that we are His friends, are we willing to lay down our life for Christ? Are we willing to put aside our own ideas of what we want to do what He wants? If we are going to choose Him, it is to choose Him as God. Are we willing to do what He has chosen us to do instead of telling Him what we want to do? We do not know what it is going to be.
So we need simply to pray and to get rid of the romantic ideas of what it means to be chosen by the Lord and ask ourselves very seriously, “If this is true and He has chosen me,” – and it is true! – “what does He want and am I willing to do it? Am I willing to make that choice? Am I willing to love? Am I willing to follow His command and His example? Am I willing to die to myself in order to live for Him?”
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.