NOTE Because of illness, the podcasts for Easter 5 are reissues from previous years. Fresh services and reflections to bring the current series up to date will be published as soon as possible.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.’
You did not choose me but I chose you.
We live in a world that seems to overflow with abundant choice. In fact, when the objects of our desire are not immediately available we become angry and resentful. We believe that we are entitled to choose whatever we wish, and for it to be brought to our doorsteps, sometimes on the same day! The circumstances of the last year have both fostered and reinforced this sense of entitlement in many people. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, online shopping has meant that we have not had to stint ourselves, despite lockdowns and periods of isolation and sheltering. But … !!! Today Jesus speaks to us of choice. He does not speak of superficial choice, instead he speaks of that which can change our lives for ever, if we let it.
In our readings this week we have considered Christian love, generosity, apostleship and joy. Today, we are being invited to reflect upon the generosity of God’s grace to humanity in terms of our being called by God. In our materialistic world we foster the belief that everything we have is a matter of our choice, our willingness to accept and acquire what is within our grasp. Too often we fail to recognize that our worldly desires are not the end of the story. We revel in the abundance that is showered upon our privileged existence, whilst rarely pausing to think about those who live in more deprived areas of the world. Despite the moans and groans about the chore of shopping, all the evidence suggests that we enjoy being ‘spoilt for choice’ and that we cannot begin to imagine how we would react if we had no choice at all. But, when we look at those areas of the world where there is little material choice we often see great spiritual joy. The deprivation of unnecessary material wealth seems to foster a closer identification with Christian calling.
Jesus said you did not choose me but I chose you. In these words we are being reminded that it is through God’s generosity that we came to enjoy the salvation offered through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This abundant and overflowing generosity was, and is, a gift from God to us. There was no obligation on God to give us so much, but that is the path he chose for us. Let us respond in gratitude that he has called us. Let us set aside our material greed and let us follow him in simple and profound joy. Let us shed the unnecessary in order that we might focus on every aspect of God’s call in our lives and not be distracted by the next ‘must have’ purchase that leads us away from God’s love.