I wonder if you are ever tempted to advise God as to how He might do a better job in this world. Like, for instance, with food – wouldn’t it be great if God had put all the nutrients we need in pizza, fried chicken and ice cream, and put all those unwanted calories and saturated fat in turnips and parsnips?
Are you ever tempted to give God advice?
Sometimes when we look at the people that God has chosen, we might think that God could have done a better job. Like Moses – Moses was the one who led the Chosen People from the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land. But Moses had murdered a man earlier in his life.
And then there is King David – from whose family- line the Messiah, Jesus, would be born. King David gave us the Book of Psalms, through God’s inspiration. King David had also committed adultery and murder.
The Lord chose Amos to be His prophet. We heard about Amos in the first reading today. Amos is brought before Amaziah, the head priest of the royal temple, and Amos is asked: “Amos, what are your credentials? Where did you go to prophet school?”
Amos answers, “I don’t have any credentials. I have shepherded sheep, and I learned how to do that from my father and my grandfather. As a side job, I have been tending sycamore trees – I picked that up on my own by watching others. But I was in the market place and I saw people cheating each other. I saw widows being evicted from their homes, and I’ve seen children being sold for the price of a new pair of sandals. God told me to prophesy – God has made me His prophet. Those are my credentials.”
And we wonder: couldn’t God have selected some more promising candidates?
In the New Testament, God doesn’t seem to do much better. We look at Jesus’ “cabinet” – Peter, James and John. Simon Peter had denied even knowing Jesus three times. James and John were very ambitious and their mother thought they ought to sit at the Lord’s right and left hand in the heavenly kingdom. It sure looks like God could have made some better choices.
And, in today’s Gospel, Jesus sends out the twelve Apostles – including Judas – to preach repentance and to cure the sick in His name. God chose them.
We hear in the second reading today from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that God has also chosen us: to be His beloved sons and daughters – and to become disciples of His Son, Jesus – and to live as faithful stewards of God’s bountiful blessings.
We have been chosen by God. And still we have questions just like people throughout the centuries have had: “Lord, are you really sure you want me?” The answer from God is: “Yes, I do. I have chosen you!”
There was a graduation ceremony in a small Midwestern college, and one of the students was awarded a full scholarship for further studies because of his excellent performance there. As the graduation procession moved out at the end, that student went over to his mother and father. Everybody could see by the way that they were dressed that they were not people of privilege. He put that certificate in his mother’s hands, and she reached over and took her husband’s hand and put it on top of hers and that scholarship. She said to her husband, “It was worth all the sacrifices, wasn’t it honey?”
And it was. That graduate was grateful for all that his mother and father went without so that he could go to college. And so, on the way out, he put that scholarship in the hands of those who had made it possible for him. He knew where his gratitude belonged.
Everything that we have and are is a gift from God. God wants us to receive His gifts to us and develop them with a return. As His stewards, we show our gratitude to God – who has chosen us to play a part in His plan for the world – by sharing our gifts generously with others.
Sister Irene Sandfry was the sacristan at Saint Joseph Parish in Avon Lake where I served as the pastor for eighteen years. She died last December at the age of 92. And she was a very holy woman.
She told us how, when her alarm clock rang at 3:15 AM, the first thing she would do – even before turning on the light – was to take hold of the small statue of Jesus on her night stand and say to Him each morning: “Jesus, what can I do for you today?” What a great way to begin each day, yes?
I recommend this practice to you. Don’t be afraid to ask Him: “Jesus, what can I do for you today?” And don’t be afraid to listen for His response. He will let you know.
And if you think you are a particular challenge to God, just look at the lives of people He has chosen in the past, and see what God was able to do through them!
“Jesus, what can I do for you today? Help me to know. And help me to remember that, in spite of everything else, you have chosen me.”