Chosen by God

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., recently preached to distinguished young people gathered from all over the diocese at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption at the St. Pius X Youth Awards on May 9. He quoted from Jesus’ words in John 15:16, which had just been proclaimed, “It was not you who chose Me, but I Who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” 

The bishop explained that he had chosen that Gospel for the ceremony “because I am absolutely convinced it was not my choosing to be a bishop, no one chooses to be a bishop. I stand here today before you as your bishop, it’s because God Who chose me. I believe that there is a lot more peace in our lives when we let God do the choosing, the planning for us.”

The bishop then told the youth, “God chose you to be His sons and daughters. God called you to faith through Baptism, with the cooperation of your parents. The Lord kept calling you to the next things; you have said yes. I have a surprise for you — God has a lot more mission[s] for you to accomplish. I urge you today to keep your eyes, ears, minds, hearts, open to what God calls you to do to bear fruit.”

After thanking the recipients of the St. Pius X medal for their service to the Church, Bishop da Cunha said, “Remember, this is just the beginning. The Lord counts on you for a lot more,” putting an emphasis on the word “lot.”

Recalling that the previous Sunday was the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the bishop said, “I would encourage you to think and pray and reflect seriously — what is God calling you to do — to become a better person, to grow in holiness.”

The bishop closed his homily by paraphrasing St. Paul’s words (2 Tim 4:6-8), in which the Apostle said that he had finished “the race” and had “kept the faith.” The bishop urged the young people to reach out for the “crown of glory” that God will offer them “for fidelity, for doing what He wanted [you] to do.”

Last Saturday Pope Francis, in his homily canonizing SS. Jacinta and Francisco Marto in Fatima, said, “That evening [the evening of Mary’s first apparition on May 13, 1917], Jacinta could not restrain herself and told the secret to her mother: ‘Today I saw Our Lady.’ They had seen the Mother of Heaven. Many others sought to share that vision, but they did not see her. The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her. We will have all eternity for that, provided, of course, that we go to Heaven.” In other words, Mary did what God chose for her to do in 1917 — appear to the three children and have them then carry out their chosen vocation to be God’s simple messengers to remind us of the path to Heaven.

God has chosen us for Heaven, but we often resist. Pope Francis continued, “Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in His creatures. Such a life — frequently proposed and imposed — risks leading to hell. Mary came to remind us that God’s light dwells within us and protects us. In Lucia’s account, the three chosen children found themselves surrounded by God’s light as it radiated from Our Lady. According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is more than anything this mantle of light that protects us, here as in almost no other place on earth. We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches: ‘show unto us Jesus.’”

 Bishop da Cunha and Pope Francis were trying to get their listeners to heed God’s calling for their lives. The Holy Father noted, “We can take as our examples St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, whom the Virgin Mary introduced into the immense ocean of God’s light and taught to adore Him. That was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering. God’s presence became constant in their lives, as is evident from their insistent prayers for sinners and their desire to remain ever near ‘the hidden Jesus’ in the tabernacle.” Our time with Jesus in prayer helps us to become better aware of what He has chosen us to do (in our lifelong vocations and in the day-to-day events our lives).

“God created us to be a source of hope for others, a true and attainable hope, in accordance with each person’s state of life,” the pope reminded us. “In ‘asking’ and ‘demanding’ of each of us the fulfillment of the duties of our proper state (‘Letters of Sister Lucia,’ 28 February 1943), God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia. We do not want to be a stillborn hope! Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives. ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’ (Jn 12:24). The Lord, Who always goes before us, said this and did this. Whenever we experience the cross, He has already experienced it before us. We do not mount the cross to find Jesus. Instead it was He Who, in His self-abasement, descended even to the cross, in order to find us, to dispel the darkness of evil within us, and to bring us back to the light.”

Returning to the Vatican, the Holy Father continued this theme in his daily Mass on Tuesday, in which he said, “A peace without a cross is not the peace of Jesus. The world teaches us the way to anesthetized peace: it anesthetizes us from seeing another reality of life: the cross. This is why Paul says that one must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven on the road with many tribulations. [T]ribulations are there, whether pain, illness or death. But the peace that Jesus gives is a gift: it is a gift of the Holy Spirit; and this peace lasts through tribulations and beyond.”

We do not choose our crosses; God has chosen us to take up our crosses and follow Him. It is the only way which leads to life.

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