“Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own”. These words are the Refrain of today’s Responsorial Psalm. In order to appreciate fully the meaning of these words, it is important to recall our Baptism.
Why? What God said to Jesus on the day of his Baptism, God says to us on the day of our baptism: “You are my Son, the Beloved: my favor rests on you”. We are the beloved sons and daughters of God; we are the beloved children of God. That’s how much worth, dignity and value we have. That’s how precious and special we are to God. That’s how deeply and profoundly we are loved by God.
Here is a quotation from Fr. Henri Nouwen book, Life of the Beloved: “As children of God, we are God’s chosen ones”. Fr. Nouwen’s words recall Jesus’ own words: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”
Jesus chooses us freely. This is God’s initiative. It is not the result of something we have done. We can’t earn this gift, nor do we deserve this gift. It is simply the result of God’s extravagant and limitless love. Baptism celebrates that choice by Jesus. As a result of Baptism, Jesus is saying to each of us: “I love you so much that I am choosing you.”
The reality that we are God’s chosen ones has 2 implications. The 1st implication deals with the question: For what have we been chosen? The short answer is: We have been chosen to be co-sharers in God’s divine life. As a result of Baptism, God’s own life, that of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit lives inside us. God’s own divine life dwells in us. We call this in-dwelling divine life “grace”. “Grace” is just a fancy word to explain the truth that we house God. Just as this is a tabernacle of God, we are tabernacles of God.
A mystical writer from the 5th century wrote: “God’s love is so tremendous that he is like a sober drunk, falling over himself in the desire to share divine life”. Each of us is invited to reflect on these questions: Do I accept my place as a chosen child of God? Do I really believe that, as God’s chosen, I share in the very life of God?
Each of us ought to hold on to this truth: The core of my identity as a person is not based on what others think of me, or what I do or what I have. The core of my identity is that I am a person chosen by God to be his dwelling place.
The 2nd implication deals with the reality that our choseness forms us into a community, into a people that belong to God. Once again, a proper understanding of Baptism is necessary. If we are sons and daughters of God, then, God is our Father. Since Jesus also called God, “Father”, then, Jesus is our Brother. If we have the same Father and the same brother, we are brothers and sisters to each other. As a result of Baptism, we are all part of the family of God. We are related to each other; we are connected to each other.
Here is another quotation from Fr. Nouwen’s same book, “When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosenness of others. That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone – a unique, special place. Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart.”
What Fr. Nouwen is saying is that, since we all belong to God’s family, to be chosen as the beloved of God means that we include others rather than exclude others. We accept every person we meet as a unique tabernacle of God rather than rejecting him or her as less valuable. God has chosen a community, a people to be his dwelling place. If we accept this truth, it will affect the way we treat others, particularly those who are different from us.
“Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own”. We have just repeated these words 5 times. May they penetrate the very depths of our being!
As our Eucharist continues, let us offer 2 prayers to God. First, let us thank God for the fact that he is our Father, and we are his beloved children. As his children, let us rejoice with grateful hearts that he has chosen us.
Second, since God’s love is a love that includes everyone, may God help us to see every person we encounter as a brother or a sister, a member of God’s own people, who is precious in God ‘s eyes, and who also has been chosen by God.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
September 2, 2020