As we approach the Rite of Election, let’s explore more deeply the biblical notion of choice. Those of us from first-world countries are fanatical about choice. We believe choice is a birthright. We choose our forms of government, our careers, our friends, and our breakfast cereals. The ability to have so much choice is both comforting and overwhelming.
We do not choose; God chooses
The elect, however, do not choose. We are chosen. Scripture identifies Israel as the Chosen People — chosen by the Lord God. We who follow Christ are heirs to that choice — that election — by God.
For those of us who grew up immersed in a culture of choice, it can be difficult to remember that we did not choose Christ. Christ chose us (Jn 15:16).
As the catechumens stand before the bishop, they join a long tradition of being chosen. Significantly, Jesus chose the “Twelve” — both a recalling of the twelve tribes of Israel and a foreshadowing of the Church.
The early church took on Jesus’s ministry of election, choosing and forming disciples who would continue the mission. But the church, then and now, only chooses under the guidance and through the power of the Holy Spirit. The initiative is still and always with God.
The reason God chooses us
What are we chosen for? We are chosen to be holy (Eph 1:4), a royal priesthood (1 Pt 2:9), not of the world (Jn 15:19), set apart for the gospel (Rm 1:1).
We are chosen for the Messianic banquet (Mt 22:14). Pope Francis teaches that a banquet must include wine, which is the reason John recounts Jesus’s miracle of turning water to wine at Cana. The pope says this is more than just a simple account of what happened. The wine is a symbol of the blood Jesus will shed for our sakes. He is the Groom who, through the paschal meal, binds us to himself. It is through the blood of Christ that the faith of the church is born (see General Audience, June 8, 2016).
What are we chosen for? We are chosen to offer our lives, our blood, just as Christ did. The catechumens may not yet know all of what this means for them. Who can know everything marriage means on the day of the wedding? But they have to know enough. They have to know that being chosen means being chosen for mission. And the mission will mean dying to their selves so they can live in Christ.
Lest we be unfruitful or ineffective in the mission, Peter cautions us to “be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble” (2 Pt 1:10).
Fulfilling God’s choice
As the catechumens stand before the bishop, he will ask them: “Do you wish to enter fully into the life of the Church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist?”
If we have formed them well, they will know in that moment that the choice has already been made.
2 thoughts on “What choice do we have?”
It is good to be reminded that we will gather to celebrate what God is doing , has been doing and commits Godself to continue to do in, with and through our catechumens
The article “What Choice Do We Have” is a great starting reflection in relation to the Rite of Election. I think it is fundamentally right on target: God, in Christ, chooses us first, and we are chosen to be holy. That choice by God draws us into the very life of God, largely through the sacramental life of the Church, and sharing in that life always involves pouring ourselves out in loving service for the life of the world.
The premise of the article also has its poignant truth: First world people are often obsessed with the notion of freedom of choice. It’s a birthright and to a large degree considered a responsibility.
As true as as both these insights are–and appreciating the intent of the article in light of the Rite of Election–I’d like to have seen it approach the notion of choice in a more nuanced way. While a “luxury” in relation to the common reality of third-world people, who often have little choice regarding the areas of life mentioned–government, careers, friends…–choice is nevertheless a constitutive element of what it means to be human. What the social teaching of the Church calls “the integral development of the human person and human persons” requires choice: right choice as Deuteronomy says, we need to “choose today” between life and death, to choose to follow God’s way., We need to freely choose to accept God’ s call, whether it’s to engage in the RCIA process or to embrace the mission of the Church, as Christ freely chose to accent his mission, which included death on the cross. Even more, we are faced with the thousands of sometimes “overwhelming” choices as to how to live out our Christian life, including how we are to be good stewards of all our resources–from financial resources to the gifts of the Spirit given to serve the whole Body of Christ. Of course, the Spirit of God is always ready to help us discern the right choices we are faced with on a daily basis. Yet in emphasizing that God chooses us first need not minimize the appropriate role of choice in the Christian’s life and, indeed, the value and necessity of being possessed of the freedom of choice.
In brief these two realities are both integrally true, and neither should be compromised in service of the other.
Thanks for listening.