One of the truly wonderful aspects of the TV series called The Chosen. It’s a multi season series on the Life of Jesus and his disciples. But one of the wonderful things about this series is it’s very biblical but it tries to look at the different characters in the life and ministry of Jesus and develop some of their back story to look at what kinds of things – what kinds of reactions would have been happening in between the stories that we read in the Gospels and one of their aspects of that that is really brought to life is the humanity of all of the people involved. The humanity of the disciples as they fight and bicker and try to make sense of things, brings all of that to such wonderful relief. They’re no longer a plaster cast kind of characters They’re very real, very human. Very much like us through the same fights, the same struggles, the same sense of making sense of all of these things. And one of my favourite scenes (so far) is the scene in the 7th episode of the first season when Matthew, the tax collector is called. Now, we’ve already seen Matthew. We’ve begun to get a bit of his story and to see you know what a strange and interesting character that he is. And how despised he is by the other disciples, because he’s the one that’s, trying to get the taxes from Simon and Andrew and James and John. And so they’re not great fans of Matthew and his collaboration with the Romans. We also hear the story that you know his family was also rejected him. Everybody, it seems within the Jewish community rejects him. Like he says, you know, I don’t get invited to the feast. I don’t get invited to celebrate, you know any other the Jewish festivals with any of the other Jewish believers? Because I’m an outsider, not one of the chosen ones. Yet he’s seen Jesus. He’s seen the miracles. He’s seen some of the teaching, he’s heard, some of these signs, and so one day when he’s there in his tax booth guarded by his centurion, that Jesus just happens to pass by. You can watch the scene on YouTube. It’s just magnificent as Jesus looks at him and calls him: Matthew, son of Alphaeus.
- Play MP3
- Acts 10:25-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
Such a moving example of this is the story for all of us and none of us were worthy of the day that we were called, none of us had done anything extraordinary in the day that Jesus first invited us into that same experience. Our relationship with him, the Gospel makes it so clear. First that the only way that Jesus knows how to love is the way that the father has loved him. He knows how to love, he knows how to live in that love because he’s been schooled in that of course, by his earthly example with Mary and Joseph, but especially in prayer through the example of his own father.
And he’s responded to that he heals people. He’s compassionate on people because that’s the way that he’s learned to love them. He’s caught up in that experience of love, and he invites us into that same experience of love as well. This gospel is also very deeply significant. For me in part because they you know so closely recognize the person of Matthew in my own life. You know that sense that he’d done nothing. He was, you know, very gifted. Intellectually he was very caught up in very gifted with mathematics and being able to count and to do calculations and all those kinds of things, and but they’re powerful sense of Matthew as the one who responds. Who just gives of himself. Matthew is my confirmation name and when I chose that name, I didn’t do a whole lot of thought. I was always, you know, a little bit annoyed later on that I didn’t do a lot of praying and didn’t do a lot of work. It didn’t do a lot of preparation then. To be honest, the only reason I chose Matthew, is because my two older brothers one had chosen Luke and one had chosen Mark and so Matthew seemed to be the next logical choice to make.
And I used to, you know, tell sacramental children, please do a little bit more work than I had done. And yet a few years ago, when I was on retreat in preparation for my 30 day retreat. And so you spend a period of retreat kind of building up this. The retreat stamina to be able to last the 30 days and as part of that it was reflecting upon the name that God had given to me, you know that every single one of us we read in the Book of Revelation is given a special name by God. And you know, being the Bible geek that I am, I was trying to come up with these really obscure kind of Hebrew titles and things to make sense of what name have you given me God and I just felt Jesus say to me? Are you silly? It’s Matthew. Matthew is the name that I’ve given to you that I wanted for you. This sense of this gospel, especially you did not choose me. No, I chose you that God has chosen every single one of us. That’s why I’m a priest because I was the age of 20. I’d already known the Lord for a few years. They’ve been trying to serve him to pray each day to read the scriptures, to be caught up in that going to church much more regularly and living in sacramental life. I’ve been involved in university ministry. I’ve been involved on campus. But on that particular day was back in Bega and the parish priest at the time (Fr Gerry) was sharing his own story, his own conversions, telling his own story of his ordination. It was the anniversary of his ordination, the next day. So he was telling us what he was feeling like on that day the night before his ordination he said he was felt so unworthy, so unprepared so unable to be a priest. And he said there was only one thing that had kept him going and allowed him to present himself before the Bishop. The next day to be ordained. And he said that was from John 1516. He did not choose me. No, I chose you, and I have appointed.
To go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last as he said that, I experienced this physical movement within my body and the depths of who I was. Knowing that was true of my life was not that I was special. Was not that I’d done anything, not that I was worthy of anything, but God called me, and God chose me and God will do the same for anyone that wants to. We don’t have to do anything special. We don’t have to shape ourselves and form ourselves and to be worthy of God’s love.
This is all grace. It’s why the TV series is called The Chosen. It’s not the ones that they have were worthy, they that had done anything extraordinary but one by one Jesus through that personal relationship, chooses and calls and invites us into that same encounter and the same experience of love as the father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love, that’s what we’re invited to do just to rest in that love to remain, and to abide in that love of God. That’s the commandment that Jesus gives us to be caught up in that to allow God’s love to call us and invite us. He will choose us. He will Commission us. He will invite us to be his followers to be his disciple. That’s all we need to do is to respond.
God will do that work. God will do that sanctification as well – as we hear in the first reading – with that gift of the Holy Spirit being released upon the disciples, even the foreigners, even the outsiders: God will do that work. Let’s indeed open ourselves today to the love that the father has lavished upon us. Let’s receive that love. And let’s say our yes to God as he calls us today.