Jul 26, 2019 1106 Deacon Jim McFadden,

Being Called

Know That God Has Chosen You. He Has Called You for Greater Things.

What Does It Mean To Be Called?

To begin with, it is not something we choose. Our entire life is about choices and to say that the most important thing that can happen to me is not my choice goes against our western individualistic grain. In America choice virtually defines our life. We are in charge of our life; we make choices for our life. This is the way any intelligent person would perceive reality.

But, Jesus puts it on an utterly different course: you are chosen. It is something done to you. This point puts us in an entirely different framework—when you see your life as a response to what the Jewish tradition has called election.

Being Chosen

Being chosen happens within the context of relationship. Walter Brueggemann, the great Protestant Scripture scholar, said the relationship between God and humanity is more “like the inscrutability of serious relationship than like anything else.” Basically, if you do not understand relationships … if you have never been in a serious relationship, then the entire notion of being called just will not resonate. The rules that obtain in a relationship with others are the same rules we have with God. All the stages of failure, apology, forgiveness, surrender, trust, vulnerability, renewal, starting over, asking for forgiveness, giving forgiveness are contained in our relationship with God. Relationships are the school of everything and the call to discipleship occurs within that context.

The clearest indication that you have experienced this chosen relationship is, frankly, the desire to give it back. When you choose to give yourself back to the One who has chosen you, that is where discipleship begins. But, it has to start with the experience of being beloved, of being chosen, of being significant or special in the eyes of God

If you do not know Jesus, if you are not falling in love with Him, the entire notion of being called just will not resonate. If we do not know the Lord then what we do will simply be about us. The older we get and the more ego-driven we are, the more bitter, controlling, complaining, blaming we become.

Full of Joy

The experience of being chosen, of election, of being called, situates the entire thing not in the context of duty—something you have to do to avoid feeling guilty— but more beautifully as we embrace discipleship out of a sense of joy. As the Psalmist says, “To do Your will is my delight.” Is there anything better than to do the Father’s will here and how? You can feel the difference. When someone is serving out of desire and delight, there is a palatable sense of joy and peace. He or she is literally “moving, living and having his or her being” in Jesus and it shows. When someone is simply acting out of obligation and routine, it is lifeless and often leads to cutting corners—doing the bare minimum to get by. When we do “obligatory Christianity” we tend toward a reward– punishment system. I will do this work to get rewarded or to avoid a certain punishment. It is basically a very strict way to live. It is all about duty and obligation; it is all spiritual “fire insurance” and you can tell there is no desire, no delight in the Lord … in giving back what has been given in abundance to us.

Saint Francis of Assisi said that his desire was to love back because he experienced being loved first. He experienced being chosen, of being loved deeply. If we have not experienced the love first then there is no love to give back. We cannot give what we do not have. As Francis said, we are all channels of God’s grace. If God loves us then whatever love we are able to give through ministry is simply letting God’s love flow in and through us. In the process the Doer uses us as His instrument of a love that is not our own.

Deepest Yearning of Your Heart

It seems that if we do not ground our Christian discipleship in being chosen, in being elected, we distort the meaning of spiritual desire. It is not really a desire for God, not a desire for communion and fellowship or for love but for identity—for security, power and need. When the entire work of following Jesus is grounded in the experience of election, being called, it purifies the nature of spiritual desire that is always a desire for union … a desire for relationship; only the “Other” can satisfy the deepest yearning of our heart. This “Other” is the Triune God.

I hope, dear reader, that I have given you the challenge and the courage to trust your own experience of being chosen, of being a beloved, of being elected. And, I hope you have the courage to rest there and to draw your strength from His presence. Through your modeling the gospel, people will be drawn to you because it is no longer you who lives but Christ who lives within you. People worldwide are attracted to Pope Francis because he radiates Jesus. God is calling you to do the same. You will describe and invite people into the very relationship that is transforming you.

Dear God, we praise and thank you that we are being chosen to be your love. May we live our life joyfully as we radiate the light of Christ to those around us. Grant us the grace to grow more and more in relationship with you, O triune God, so we may never falter from loving You more and more each day. Amen.


Deacon Jim McFadden

©Deacon Jim McFadden ministers at the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Folsom, California. He is a teacher of theology and serves in the Adult Faith Formation, baptismal preparation, spiritual direction, and prison ministry.

Latest Articles