Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I Know Those Whom I have Chosen

May 7, 2009

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue officials sent word to them, "My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak." So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said, "Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen. Acts 13:15-16

Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.” John 13:16-18


God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and to dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous idea of “worthiness.”

(Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 157.)


Christ’s message about the messenger resonates with me. Just because we might be asked to be his messenger does not mean there is anything special about us. In fact, everyone is asked to be Christ’s messenger. True freedom is what we do with the invitation.

Paul chose to stop persecuting the Christians and become one of them. He showed that he would rather switch than fight – with a little motivation from being knocked to the ground and blinded. Judas (“the one who ate my food”) on the other hand, chose not to be a messenger in the end. He instead elected to raise his “heel” against Christ. (“Even the friend who had my trust, who shared my table, has scorned me.” Psalm 41:10)

Our deepest freedom, Merton reminds us, rests not in our freedom to do anything that we want to do like Jesus. Instead, our deepest freedom lies in our freedom to become who God wills us to be like Paul. This is not some predestined straight-jacket of a life that we will lead. When we are free to fully rely upon God, we can experience the infinite rainbow of possibilities in life. Those possibilities are endless when we consider how any one of the disciples – Simon Peter – clearly missed some of his earlier chances to be the person God willed him to be. However, in the end, Peter got over his denials and betrayals. He was able to embrace the possibilities of his God-given, grace-filled gift of life.


Before we can choose God, we have to leave ourselves open to accepting his vocation for us and for our life in the world. In a talk on Life and Contemplation, Merton speculates on how we can contemplate our role in the world.

From the moment you put a piece of bread in your mouth you are a part of the world…Who made the bread? Where did it come from? You are in relationship with the guy who made this stuff. And what is your relationship to him? Do you deserve to be eating this stuff…do you have a right to it? That is the world and that is no illusion.

What did you put in your mouth last? A glass of wine? Some Fair Trade coffee? Or perhaps you ate some grapes or other fruit. Was it picked by a union member or by a migrant worker? Do we even know the hands who prepared our food? Who assembled our car? Who patented our computer? Who packaged our clothing?

Our life in studying Christ helps to get us closer to Him and to recognizing the moments that we are closest to Him throughout the week. Our life in piety also helps us life in union and communion with Christ. Our life in action helps us to meet the needs of those around us as if they were Christ to us. We can not live in union with Christ unless we also can live in union with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our friends and enemies, who also are made in the image and likeness of the same God, help us to penetrate the hard outer shell of the world and get close to each other and close to the Cross.

What gifts are God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit sending to you today? How can you use those gifts to be a messenger for the team – to penetrate the world and to let Christ penetrate into communion with you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the effort you and your associates put into Your Daily Tripod. It is a wonderful endeavor. I'm not involved in the Cursillo Movement, but I look forward to your blog in the morning before going to daily Mass. It is eloquent, thought-provoking and inspirational--and a good way to start the day.

Although your thoughts usually are in line with my faith, I was taken aback by your remarks today (Wednesday, May 13) regarding Notre Dame's inviting President Obama to give their commencement speech and receive an honorary degree. You compared the controversy surrounding this issue to the Mosaic law of circumcision in the early Church, concluding that: "The world did not end and the Catholic character of the school was not torn asunder when Bill Clinton spoke there in the early 1990s. I think they will survive Saturday." Wow.

I must take issue here. Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president ever. This man told Planned Parenthood that he wanted to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as on of the first acts of his presidency, told cheering crowds that he wouldn't want his daughters to be "punished by a baby" if they made a mistake, is swiftly and systematically dismantling all of the gains made by the pro-life movement in the past thirty years, and would like to remove conscience protections for doctors who choose not to perform abortions. Indeed, President Obama's aggressive pro-abortion agenda is an affront to all of us who believe in the sanctity of life.

While I understand your desire as a Catholic Christian to unite rather than divide, the issue here is that a premier Catholic university is bestowing honors on a man who actively and aggressively promotes the killing of innocent babies in their mothers' wombs. That issue trumps everything else. There are times when we as Catholics must stand firm, and this is one of those moments.

By the way I like the new kneelers!

Thanks again for all that you do, and may God continue to bless you in your mission.

Mary Lee Ruby
Fairfax, VA