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Every call is holy, just and considered
"For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). These words of Jesus must wake us up. Am I one of those who are called? Am I the chosen out of "many"? We often see this dichotomy of many and few. Why is that God does not choose all of them who are called? Many wrongly understand these words of our Saviour. Often people believe that only a few are called to be priests or nuns or consecrated people. By our Baptism God has called and chosen everyone and left no one. Perhaps only a few make a real commitment to the call Jesus mentions about. Every call is holy, just and considered whether it is to form a family, remain single or be consecrated. Our call is to do the will of God.
Choosing to opt for a greater cause
As I write these few lines what is upper most in my mind are two things. First one is of Fr Stan Swamy, an 83 year old Indian Jesuit priest under arrest by the Indian Federal Agency for Investigation (NIA). The second is the Ordination to the Priesthood of four of our Jesuit Deacons today. Both these events have a meaning in what the Sunday scriptural readings are speaking.
Less than a year ago, I was with Fr Stan in the hospital when he went through an operation. My conversations with him made me aware what that word "chosen" means. A deeply committed Jesuit leaving behind his home in the South of India Fr Stan opted to work with the Adivasis (tribles) of North. Firstly, his conviction that people of the land have a right on their land against the Mining lords led to fight against the very system of illegal practices. Secondly, he could not tolerate unlawful conviction and jailing of Adivasi youth and people (See his interview). Thirdly, Fr Stan did not keep quiet over growing threat to the secularism and diversity of India due to forceful Hinduization of our country. Fourthly, he voiced against vicious majoritianizm of the ruling party of India. Fifthly, but unfortunately, Fr Stan's voice was viewed as dissent. Debate, dissent, discussion, and dialogue are the pillars of any democracy. Sixthly, Fr Stan did what every responsible citizen of a country must do, that is to enter into intellectual and civic dialogue, exchange and enhance ethos of the country for the greater good. Sadly, in today's contest this has been seen as threat to the establishment and power of the traditionally controlled people and the ruling party. Speaking of truth and justice is seen as unnatural by both the central and state governments. Therefore to silence a civilised voice is to implicate the person into a case that has nothing to do with the person. This is what happening to Fr Stan.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness... blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness... blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matthew 5:3-12). When God chooses us we have to make a choice either to side with Jesus and the values of His Kingdom or with the mammon. Fr Stan's commitment to this choice to side with Jesus has led him to be part of the witch hunt of the NIA.
Choosing is chasing the dreams of Jesus
The parable of the wedding feast that Jesus (Matthew 22:1-14) gives us is a challenging one in every way. Attending the banquet entails certain discipline and commitment. People had to attend the feast with right attire/dress. That means only a few would have the possibility of attending because of its requirements. When Jesus invites and chooses us, we should be ready to accept that offer. Once that offer is accepted we have to follow the path that is set before us. It is an invitation of God is to a feast as joyous as a wedding feast. This parable is a reminder for us that Christianity is not a gloomy religion instead a joyous one. His invitation is to rejoice, happy. For those who think Christianity as a gloomy giving up of everything which brings laughter and sunshine and happy fellowship is to mistake its whole nature. The resurrected Jesus brought us joy and peace. If one misses the invitation that means he or she misses joy as well. All the more those who hold on to God they will be amply blessed.
Look at the words from Prophet Isaiah (25:8) "God will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face." Certainly these words are reassuring us and we must hear again and again during this pandemic which has struck us like a disaster. God has no plans to leave us alone in our trials and tribulation, in times of false accusations and wrong judgements. Finally it is God who governs this universe. Psalm 23 verse 6 assures so powerfully:"Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." Even though it might sound a bit idealistic or utopian to our human intellect but that is the fact that we don't continue to live on this created universe for eternity.
Here we have a beautiful example in the person St Paul. While writing to Philippians (4:12-13) he boldly confesses: "I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." Perhaps we need this boldness and joy of St Paul. God knows best how to treat his creatures. When anxieties and fears surround you there is a God who strengthens you with his bountiful graces. We need to trust him fully and accept the situation joyfully and positively.
- Olvin Veigas, SJ
10 October 2020