In today’s Gospel from St. John, Jesus tells his disciples that “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” (As if to underscore the importance of the passage, we heard this Gospel both yesterday and today and we’ll hear it again on Sunday.)
One of the things that came to my my mind as I sat and reflected on these words is the experience of a child waiting to be chosen for a team for some ball game. When I was a young girl, it was punchball or kickball. I remember standing in line waiting for one or the other captains to pick me for their team. I was never one of the last girls chosen, but I was typically far enough away from the first so that there would always be some moments of worry whether I would be chosen last (or not at all). It was not a good feeling.
When I hear Jesus say, “I have chosen you,” what it feels like is Jesus standing in front of me as though I were the first person he decided to pick for his team. And the feeling carries with it the realization that Jesus stands in front of each of us as though each and every one of us were His first choice, the first one to be picked. I choose you. I want you. Especially you.
That feeling is a thrilling one. Jesus chooses me. Jesus wants me. And just as Jesus chose Peter to be the cornerstone of His Church, He appoints each of us “to go and bear fruit that will remain.” Filled with the thrill of being chosen, how can we do anything else?