A friend told me that she needed some day laborers for some heavy yard work, so she went to downtown El Paso, Tex- as, to one of the corners where men wait to be hired. It was a Sunday but there were four men hoping for work. She told one who seemed to be the spokesman that she only needed three. “Okay,” he said. “Which ones do you want?” My friend was very uncomfortable making the selection and tried to get the man to choose for her. “No, it’s your decision,” he insisted. She finally agreed to take all four.
I have never been much of an athlete. I have many childhood memories of choosing teams, whether for dodgeball or kickball or volleyball or “red rover,” when I was one of the dreaded last-ones-standing. “Please call my name! Please pick me! Even if I’m not very good, choose me!” Such life experiences can make it difficult to believe that God would choose us. \Those memories even came back to me recently when I heard the Gospel story of the selection and commissioning of the disciples (Lk 10:1-2). I imagined those 72, like the 12 who had been chosen previously, waiting to see if they would be selected, wondering if they would make the cut.
Do you want to be chosen? Are you one of those excited kids with their hands waving madly in the air to answer the question? “Oh! Oh! Me! Me!” Or are you the one who is slumping down in your seat, refusing to meet the gaze of the One who chooses? “If I don’t look maybe God won’t see me.”
We can all list the reasons why we are not good enough, not holy enough, not smart enough, not faithful enough. The amazing thing is that God already has chosen each one of us. God called each of us uniquely into existence and continues to wait for us to discover the beautiful reflection of God’s own image that we alone in all of history can be. God chooses us. Even more incredibly, God chooses us first. Jesus tells his friends in his farewell discourse, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you …” (Jn. 15:16).
The initiative is God’s. Each of us has the opportunity to respond, to “pledge, to promise in return.” What would that response look like in your life? For those called to religious life, the response means that you pledge to somehow choose others as God has chosen you. You choose those who are the last-ones-standing, the outcast, the forgotten, the abandoned. Whatever your gifts or talents: educator, social worker, healer, advocate, writer, musician, artist … you use them to serve the least of your sisters and brothers. And so the circle is complete: you choose Christ.