Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
We live in a culture that puts a premium on choice. And that is often a good thing as when two people fall in love with each other and choose to make a lifetime commitment to one another. Or when someone decides to take a risk in order to send their life in a new and promising direction. Or when someone finally resolves to start taking care of themselves by getting some help with an addiction. But choice can also often be pretty meaningless as when we are paralyzed in the cereal aisle trying to figure out which one of six different versions of some whole grain cereal is the best. Or when we are flipping through the 500 channels on our TVs at night and can’t seem to find an end to the infomercials, talking heads (perhaps better called “yelling” heads these days), or ads for pay-per-view shows. Or when we’re trying to discern the finer differences among various versions of some device or gadget we’ve run a search for on Amazon.
The texts we have before us from the Book of Acts and John aren’t so much about choice. And, indeed, they might make us think a bit about the premium that we often put on it. In the passage from Acts, one of two followers of Jesus becomes an apostle. But not by choice—at least not by his choice. Instead, the lot falls on him. God chooses. And in John, Jesus tells the disciples in strong terms that they did not choose him; he chose them. He appointed them to bear fruit for his kingdom.
We think of ourselves as making all kinds of choices in the course of our lives, some of them really important. And, of course, we do. Yet, the readings before us today should give us pause and invite us to ask ourselves in what ways God is choosing us.
We live in very troubling times. White supremacy is on the rise, or at least becoming much more visible again. Bipartisan politics has perhaps become a thing of the past. Many people seem to have no qualms about ripping into someone on social media just because they disagree with something they have said. People walk into schools or workplaces or mosques and shoot others (often complete strangers) just because they’re angry and have a gun.
In days like these, what does it mean that God has chosen us? That the lot has fallen upon us to be apostles of the Word? That we have been called to bear fruit for the kingdom today? This is not about choice. We have already been chosen. Or, perhaps better put, if we have a choice at this juncture it is not about whether we are God’s but about whether we will or we won’t obey his command—to love one another, as he loves us.
Merciful God, you know the messages we get every day stoking our fears of others and urging us to be hateful of our so-called enemies. Give us the strength to resist those demands and instead follow your command to love everyone. Amen.