“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”

In four of the last five days we have heard parts or all of today’s gospel passage (Jn 15:9-17).  Today we hear it because we celebrate the feast of the “thirteenth” apostle, St. Matthias. Recall that in this reading, Jesus expresses His love for us as He is loved by the Father.  We remain in that love by keeping the commandments.  He goes on to speak of the greatest love as being that in which one dies for a friend.  We remain in His friendship by doing as He commands; we know His commands because He has told us everything the Father has told Him to convey.  Jesus chose the apostles to “bear fruit that will remain” (v. 16) by loving one another.  The words near Jesus’ closing in this passage (above) serve to further remind us who is in charge of our relationship with God.  Grace is a gift.  Faith is a gift.  Recall these beautiful words of one of the Eucharistic Prayers: “You have no need of our praise.  Yet our desire to praise you is itself Your gift.  Our prayer of thanksgiving adds nothing to Your greatness but makes us grow in grace through Christ our Lord.”  So we must never think that we are doing God a favor by honoring Him, praying to Him, returning to Him, and so on.  Rather, our attitude must always be: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17:10)

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