6th Sunday of Easter – 9 May 2021 – Bible Readings for Mass: I: Acts: 10; 25-26,34-35, 44-48; Responsorial: Psalm 98; II: I John 4: 7-10; Gospel: John 15: 9-17

Life today is inundated with choices. From politics to products in the grocery store, from APPS to use in smartphones and tablets to which devices to use, choices abound. Even in our faith, it would seem the choices never end. What about liturgy? What about the many choices of Bible to read and study? What about the growing political and faith agendas that would cause us to pick and choose? Or what about the most volatile of choices, pro-abortion or pro-life? Life seemed to once be so simple. We spoke of crossroads. Now we deal with interchanges. Life, our choices, truly can be confusing, difficult, and especially at the speed we live these days, perilous.

Yet, once again, in the mercy and peace of The Holy Spirit, we are brought back into our Heavenly Fathers Presence to listen to His Son.

We are reminded of the conversation Jesus had with His disciples in the Upper Room, through our Bible readings today, that yes, we have choices to make in this life. These choices affect us in our daily journey and for all of eternity. But we are also taught with holy clarity that our choices needs be made as we realize a very important fact, Jesus chose us. Jesus chose you and me.

We are chosen by God. In the Gospel from the glorious Upper Room discourse Jesus tells us “It was not you who chose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…” In more archaic English versions of Scripture the verb “chose” is (accurately) translated as “ordained”. Perhaps this has helped develop the erroneous perils of clericalism or the attitude among many Christians that it is those ordained or that have particular vocations to be called by God and fruitful in their ministry. But if we take Jesus at His Word and within the context of the Gospels and Apostles we must realize… Christ has chosen…us, as we are, to come to Him, receive Him and follow in His steps, to simply, abide in Him. And as we surrender to His holy mercy we learn we are indeed chosen, by God, to be…

Fruitful for Christ and His kingdom: Among many Christians there has developed a particular focus that fruitfulness for God is expressed in…matters of this world. For many big numbers at Mass or in a ministry equate to being fruitful. For some it may be the number of services to which they attend or prayers they say. Even for some the dynamics of love in a family are focused or even restricted to children that being produced. But with God Scripture clearly teaches us that it is in a vast array of Fruits of the Spirit that Jesus longs for us to be fruitful. For it is in those fruits the souls of others and our self will grow for Him. So our choice for God would be to grow ever more fruitful in those Fruits rooted in the love of the Father, from abiding in the Vine, His Son, and found in the power of the Holy Ghost. Our Blessed Mother, Mary, understood and showed us this choice so full of grace.

We are chosen, by our Lord, to be JOYFUL! It is with poignant beauty and irony that Jesus, at His Last Supper, moments before leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane, tells His followers… “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete”. Again the verb “complete” is well translated as “full” or “mature”. The truth, however, is clear, God, our Savior, wants our lives to be growing, maturing in His joy! This is not the absurd happiness expressed on TV by those who choose a particular drug, potato chip, car, or toilet paper. Worldly, futile happiness is found in the very insecure world of materialism or lusts, whether they be for false intimacy, power, or politics. God chooses us to know, daily, His joy that can prevail regardless of our circumstances. For God chooses us whether it be in the dark nights of the soul or in the joys of answered prayer and blessings.

We are chosen…ordained by God, to be fruitful and to be filled with His joy. It is really so very simple. Not always easy but simple. For God knows whom He has chosen. Yet we try to make it so very complex. We develop our own preferred mazes of faith and OBEDIENCE. I am too old. I am too young. I am not smart enough. I am ….fill in the excuses of choice. We nurture our models of approved fruitfulness and worship. We have a plethora of spiritual roadmaps, ways of worship, holy music, prayer, and love. Yet Jesus, in that Upper Room taught that there were just TWO choices we must make if we are to be abiding in Him. We are ordained, chosen to LOVE God and one another. Period. Full stop. And if that were not simple enough our Lord explains that we are to love God with all our hearts in the moment of time we live..not in our yesterdays or in our possible tomorrows. We are to love with all our heart…today. If our heart is harmed by sin, wounded by brokenness..to love with all our heart, today, with Jesus, wherever we are. And we are to love one another, as He loved us. Again, as we are, unconditionally, with the same unselfish love Jesus washed the feet of John the Beloved, or Peter who would deny Him three times…or Judas who would betray Him with a kiss. Jesus, knowing all this still….. LOVED. For God is Love. This would bring us to an important consideration. Where in the Gospel, in Scripture are we taught to, or how to judge love? We are taught..to love, not to judge love.

And it is the more we immerse ourselves into abiding in Him, into loving Him and one another, that we grow in the fruitfulness and joy He has ordained. Eternal, abiding fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit to give to our Heavenly Father in love and the fruitfulness of more children of our Lord following, with us, our Lord. For this we are created, redeemed and ordained, chosen by God.

Painting by Jon McNaughton