WE HAVE BEEN CHOSEN
by Rev. Robert Lucas
"You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit shall remain forever." (John 1 5:16)
Before the grand day of his election, Our Blessed Lord spent the whole night in prayer to His heavenly Father. He passed the whole night in the prayer of God; He buried Himself in the blackness of night, lifted His thoughts from the weary earth about Him, sank His own mind and will into the will and mind of His Father, and then looked once again upon the men from whom He would choose His disciples. He looked for the soul that would dare set aside its own existence and put on Him and lose itself in Him, even as He was lost in the Father. He wanted those that would give up themselves and in reality become other Christs. If they would be but true to their calling, He would give them whatever they wanted, whatever they needed. Yes, God has chosen us. We are the privileged that have been given the grace to be members of His Orthodox Catholic Church and partakers of His Holy Sacraments. But had not Christ said, "Have I not chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil." (JOHN 6:71)
How did Judas come to this? How was it that although Christ chose him, he failed? Because of the one evil passion he did not try to conquer. At the time of his calling by Christ, he was innocent and good: his face was open, his eyes were clear and truthful. He certainly had his faults, but they were no bigger than Peter's or more dangerous than those of John. He had the grace of God to follow God's wish for him.
He had the example of Our Lord and His Love and even His Friendship. His fall wasn't sudden: his heart had hardened gradually until "the little chain of habit, too small to be felt, became too strong to be broken", so that at last, he betrayed and sold for a few pieces of silver the Divine Master for Whom he had left everything to become a follower.
We too have been chosen by the Master of Love, and, although original sin has been destroyed in us and every person in a state of grace after a good confession, still the possibility of sin continues. However much we intend to do good, an overwhelming inclination to evil pursues us. We must be on the alert, and continue to kill the germs of corruption which linger around the wound and try to enter.
One rarely dies a sudden spiritual death. A heavy fall occurs only after a series of small weaknesses. Rust does not need to corrode all the links of a chain. If it eats away one, the chain loses strength and breaks. It takes many little sins to lead to the one great one. Little sins are our greatest enemies. Cannot a drop of water make a full glass overflow? Cannot a prick by a pin cause blood poisoning? One explosion has many times caused a revolutionary insurrection. A barely visible misunderstanding may lead to hatred and open quarrel. Large avalanches have been set off by the melting of a little snow. Entire forests have gone up in flames because of a carelessly thrown insignificant little match. He who does not concern himself with the small sins, insignificant and minute as they may seem, shall fall spiritually away from Christ little by little.
The kiss of Judas lies on everyone's lips. Many of us have often felt the urge to answer "NO" when God wanted to hear "YES". We have often tried to dwarf God's strength. The result has been that we have suffered because man cannot exist without God. What was the result of Judas' denial of God? DESPAIR! He had fallen so deeply into the habit of answering no to God that he couldn't gather in himself enough faith and strength to believe that God would say yes to him.
If little stones of sin have cluttered our path to Him Who has chosen us, every effort should be expended to remove them before larger boulders of mortal sin appear in their midst. We certainly know it is easier to remove small faults than serious and deadly sins which are represented by the boulders. It is much better and certainly more wiser to keep the snowball from rolling down the snow-laden mountain side because once it goes over the precipice, it gains momentum, stature and strength and it becomes almost impossible to bring it to a stop.
May Christ inspire us with zeal in following His footsteps, that His grace will be ours abundantly, guiding, strengthening, and preserving us from falling along the stony path of life.
From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America