How are we chosen by God?
One question that always seemed to arise among my classmates and myself when we were in formation for the Permanent Diaconate was why did God choose me? It is a valid statement when one realizes the choice is not because any of us is basking under a halo due to our sanctity. Neither is it based on the theological background we may have an expertise in. Well then, the query to answer this in a sensible manner lies somewhere between the need to have workers for the harvest and God’s unknown way of finding those who will work for little or no remuneration and accept the chastisements that surely will follow our decision to accept.
An excerpt from Mattthew’s Gospel; “Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt.24: 9 - 14). Part of the answer of Jesus pertaining to the eschatological discourse as to the last things.
Accepting holy orders can present similar actions in varying symptoms that may become a reality for some. However, the call to serve the Lord as brothers and sisters who are willing to expend their very lives and time becomes a choice that should be taken seriously. Those who do accept the call enter not because of their nice person qualities but their adherence to what may cause pain, suffering, and social denunciation because of Christ and all that the Catholic Church stands for.
Look at some of the men Jesus called to follow him. The first to be called was Peter and his brother Andrew With Peter, did Jesus know that he would deny him at his most vulnerable moment?
As he walked along the next call was for James and his brother John. Would the knowledge of John’s sincerity become a reason for this disciple’s acceptance?
Later on Judas became a follower and the impending betrayal he would bring upon Jesus in the garden of Gerhsemine did not deter his acceptance.
After the resurrection, Thomas would not accept the resurrection by doubting its reality.
How about St. Paul? A man who was a Roman Citizen, a Pharisee, and one who arrested Christians for crimes against the Roman Empire. We wonder how many Christians were put to death through Paul’s mission.
How often did my classmates and I reflect on the times we may have doubted, betrayed, or became ardent followers of Cihrist, his mission and suffering and death before having the grace of holy orders placed us among the Apostolic Succession in the role as deacons for Christ?
As I mentioned before in another article and above as well, the reception of holy orders is not a gift given because of being a nice guy, or even a reward for prior dedication in the church. It is a call to work in the fields of reaching souls, bringing Christ through serving each one as Christ himself, and being ready to act responsibly for our actions and be accountable for the results.
This answers the question how we are chosen by God. It is real, formidable, and the most responsible position of accepting the words of yes, I will!
Ralph B. Hathaway