by Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky


"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment: and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:13)

At every Sunday Divine Liturgy during Great Lent the Holy Church issues the call to be baptized into the Body of Christ. 'For as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ."

We can understand the call in two ways; what grammarians would term active voice and passive voice.

In one sense, Christ calls us to be united with Him, and to be separated front the world. We as Christians have as our duty to call others to Christ. If "many are called," who is to do the calling, if not us? He who is baptized is called to share the Body of Christ.

Baptism is an ordination, a calling to share in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ our Lord, making us in effect new being. From that moment, we experience a tension within ourselves between the world of the flesh, and the kingdom of God. Everything we do, each decision we make, unites us with one or the other forces demanding loyalty from us; the natural world of the flesh, or the spiritual world of Christ.

You cannot possibly live without making decisions. Every hour you are called upon to act and to choose: you can act for or against a cause, or else you may decide not to act at all, which is itself a decision. In any case, your decision will be for either the natural world, or for the spiritual world. If you give in to your flesh, even for what seems to be a good reason, the next time it will be much easier to do the same. The third time, it will be "normal." Such normal people are those who were called, but not chosen.

They would like to share Christ's glory, but they feel the price is too high. They just can't.

Nonsense! If they agree that Jesus is of God, then who but the Creator knows best of all what we are made of? Who are we to say we are not able to conform to the image of God which He put within us?

The second form of being called, is to be called Christian. Many are called Christians, but they really have no understanding of what it means to be baptized into Christ. They may even partake of Holy Communion, and fulfill the minimum requirements of their church: but it doesn't mean they are part of Christ's Body.

There are those who profit materially from being called Christian. In the United States, politicians consistently exploit their church membership in hopes of gaining votes. Salesmen, certain business men and public figures take advantage of their Christianity for material gain.

To be called through baptism is not enough: even if we call ourselves Christians, it doesn't make us so. We must be chosen, and He who does the choosing is Christ the Lord.

We are called to become members of the Body of Christ; let us hear that call and respond. so that we may be among those who also are the chosen.

"For many are called, but few are chosen."

From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
March 1969
p. 8