On the Calling of Many and the Election of the Few.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Calling of Many and the Election of the Few.
Imagine yourself to be present when our Lord relates the beautiful parable of the Great Supper, a parable which contains sweet and consoling thoughts, as well as sad and serious truths. Listen and observe with what impressive solemnity the Saviour utters the memorable words: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (St. Matt. xxii. 14.) Let this truth form the subject of your meditation to-day.
1st. Consider this utterance of our Lord in reference to the vocation to His Church. In very truth many are called, called to enter the one fold of Jesus Christ, called to take part in the marriage feast that is prepared for them there. Who can attempt to count them, to form an estimate of the millions in whose ears this call has sounded since the death of Christ for our redemption? How innumerable are the multitudes who were privileged to be born and brought up in the bosom of the Church wherein alone salvation is to be found! How many are the messengers of the Christian faith who since the time of the apostles have gone out into all lands, to proclaim the divine message: “All things are ready, come ye to the marriage.” (v. 4.) Well may the Apostle ask in wonder: “Have they not heard? Yes, verily,” he adds, “their sound hath gone forth into all the earth and their words into the ends of the whole world.” (Rom. x. 18.) Yet how many hear that call, and like the invited guests in the Gospel, do not obey it! Thousands, nay millions remain in the darkness of heathendom, in the semi-obscurity of error. And even amongst those who enter into the hall where the marriage feast is held, only a small proportion always retain the wedding garment of innocence and the ornament of good works, as Ven. Bede sorrowfully laments. Look at the thousands of Christians, of those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, who spend their lives as if such words as these had never been written: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God” (Eph. v. 19-21.) Deeds like these are in fact committed not only by unbelievers, but by those who profess to be Christians. No wonder therefore that our Lord should say: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Consider earnestly that since by God’s grace you are among the many, you may be also amongst the few if only you seriously will and desire it.
2d. Consider this utterance of our Lord in reference to the vocation to your particular calling, above all to the sacerdotal and Religious state. God has ordained everything in the order of nature as well as in the supernatural order, assigning to every creature his appointed place, his appointed aim; and can it be thought that He would not arrange man’s sphere of action in the same way? If worlds, whole systems of worlds move in the order God has decreed and the orbits He has assigned them, will He not have ordained the destiny of so insignificant a creature as man? Indeed so it is. In all human affairs God’s will is supreme; He wills to place one here, the other there; to this one He gives certain proclivities and talents for a definite purpose, to another for a different object He gives abilities of a diverse nature. And this He does in order that man may be at liberty of his own free will to acquiesce in the divine will, and may in that manner attain the end and object of his existence when and how God wills. In this way “many are called”; they are provided by God with all that they require to enable them to fulfil their destiny in their life here below and to attain happiness in doing so. But alas! “few are chosen.” Many wilfully go counter to the will of God, and for their own selfish ends they choose a vocation for which God has not qualified them. Again many who are called and have obeyed the call, who like yourself have embraced the sacerdotal or the Religious state, which one of the saints compares to a ship wherein one can sail with comparative ease over the stormy ocean of life into the harbor of eternal felicity, many such persons do not belong to the “few who are chosen” to a high degree of holiness. What is the reason of this? It is because they do not persevere, because they are not what they ought to be; because they “have left their first charity.” (Ap. ii. 4.) I do not consider it to be a very great thing, remarks Brother Giles, if a man finds a means of obtaining access to the court of the king; but I do consider it a great thing if he conducts himself there as etiquette requires, and remains modest and unassuming. Now the Religious life is the court of the heavenly Monarch; it is no difficult matter to gain admittance to it, but it is a very different matter to lead an exemplary life in the cloister, to persevere in it in all humility until death. Thus to monks and nuns our Lord’s saying applies: “Many are called but few are chosen.”
3d. Consider how this utterance of our Lord ought to be a caution to you, but ought not to terrify you. It is intended to warn you against presumption, carelessness, indifference. If you knew that an epidemic had broken out which proved fatal to a great number, and which few could altogether escape, you would take due precautions against it. Why therefore do you not do the same in regard to this danger? On the other hand you must not allow yourself to be too much alarmed by the words: “Few are chosen,” for you have every reason to hope that you will be among the number of these, remembering that the Apostle says: “God will have all men to be saved” (I. Tim. ii. 4); nay, you ought to hope it for you are a free agent, and God will not condemn any one unless through his own fault. Besides think of the many means of grace within your reach; think of your frequent Communions, the countless opportunities you have of hearing Mass; in short of the plenitude of graces which God bestows on you, and you cannot fail to acknowledge that it certainly is not His fault if you do not belong to the few that are chosen. Rouse yourself then, my soul. You are called, see to it that you are also chosen, and that when you find yourself upon your death-bed you may also be provided with the wedding-garment, like the pious Capuchin Angelus of Tolosa, who uttered these words with his last breath: “I have reason to give thanks to God for having created me, for having called me to be a Christian and a Catholic, for having given me a vocation to the Seraphic Order and for granting me the privilege of dying as a Capuchin monk.”
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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