In St. Matthew’s Gospel (22:14), the following is written: “Many are called but few are chosen.” Over the years, this passage has always caught my attention. I have often wondered what it meant and I also wondered if I had been called and chosen.
Being a man who has lived awhile and been around a bit, I’ve tried to listen, learn, and act as Jesus would have me do. Being a man also means I’ve been a sinner. Boy, talk about getting in the way of the message!
The message of Jesus that forgiveness is immediate if I choose to ask for it and that His love is total sure is reassuring to me.
In these days in America and the world, I think that Jesus must be shaking His head. I see people who are emboldened to act against others in ways that are horrible, mean and uncharitable, and just plain wrong. Whether this is acting against immigrants, the homeless, people of color, women, LGBTQ people—whomever—our humanity is being shaken.
I shake my head and wonder what I can do to try and help some semblance of humility, kindness, forgiveness, and love overcome the nastiness that seems to be taking over our decency and humanity. This is the same evil that Jesus challenged. The quest seems overwhelmingly difficult at times; at other times, it seems implausibly simple. The road map is pretty clear.
If I accept the call of Jesus, I can try to live my life as He asks me to. Most difficult for me is forgiving society for its nastiness and accepting the cost of trying to live a Christian life. We have the example from Jesus. We have only to accept the call and respond in whatever way we can. But this is truly difficult. It seems inside of every bully is a fearful child trying desperately to protect him or herself. Inside of me is the bully I condemn in others.
When I think of the example Jesus gave us, I realize I answer for myself. I have to live my own life, and sometimes forgiving others and giving up the power I have is really difficult for me. This is almost as difficult as forgiving myself.
I realize what I have to do. In challenging others through honesty and love, I have to try and not count the cost. I have to challenge myself to live honestly and with love. This is the rub for me, because I find it hard to live this honesty and love—especially when “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It seems that not counting the cost is really hard for me. When I go on the attack, it’s easy. When I am attacked, it’s extremely difficult for me to respond as Jesus would. I have a difficult time accepting some of the shots that are fired at all of us these days. Yet, when Jesus faced these difficulties, He accepted death, a public humiliating execution. I get paranoid when someone SAYS something to or about me!
“Many are called but few are chosen.” I must live my life and try and learn to accept the forgiving love that Jesus offers me. I control how I respond. With Jesus, all things are possible. With the help of others in community, all things are possible. In my life, all things are possible. Forgiveness and love are available to all of us if only we accept this gift and the grace available to do this.
How will I respond now? What about tomorrow? Can I forgive and love others and myself? To quote the magical Abby, my wife, who in turn quotes John Irving, “Keep passing the open windows,” And if you can’t, stay on the first floor.
Deacon Pat Kane
St. Francis of Assisi ANCC (Glen Ridge, NJ)