Saturday, 18 January 2014

I Have Chosen You

"If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is. Or will be when the time comes."
When Gandalf announces that Bilbo Baggins — a respectable Hobbit, but still a "little" Hobbit nonetheless — is the fourteenth member of the Dwarves' daring expedition, the Dwarves are utterly surprised, and Bilbo himself cannot be angrier. Everyone knows that a Hobbit is probably not a proper addition to the team; Bilbo is not trained in the art of the sword, he does not wield an axe, and he much prefers an uneventful life with food, a pipe, and his books. His presence in the team is not just without use, but is also a nuisance to the others.
But Gandalf insists that he has chosen Bilbo, and nobody can change his decision. Gandalf sees a great potential in simple homebody Bilbo, a potential which other people and Bilbo himself are not aware of. With much grumbling, and under the Dwarves' doubting stares, Bilbo agrees to join the mission. And we all know how the adventure unfolds.
The Bible is full of tales about God choosing the most unlikely people. In the first book of Samuel, we read how God, through Samuel, anoints Saul as a king of Israel. Just like Bilbo Baggins, Saul feels extremely unworthy. "Am I not a Benjaminite, from the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and is not my clan the least among the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?" (1 Samuel 9:21)
We are all unworthy before God. Man, in his free will, has rejected God, and consequently we are conceived and born in sin, which is none other than the state of separation from God. Since the fall of Adam, there is a deep abyss between Heaven and earth. We are then imprisoned in concupiscence, our knowledge of divine things is severely blurred, and our love for God and our fellow men is heavily blunted. It is not very surprising when Lucifer and his angels refuse to honour Adam, for what is man compared to the angels?
However, God Himself has chosen us, by making us in His own image. It is He who lifts man up as the crown of creation. It is He, too, who builds a bridge between Heaven and earth, that is, the holy cross of His Son. With a love so great, God visits us personally and offers us His salvation.
Yes, we are all called to holiness and salvation. Jesus has said that He, a doctor, comes not to visit the healthy, but the sick. Then, does the sick agree to be seen?
Based on my personal experience as a doctor, that is not always the case! Lots of people with illness deny that they are ill, and therefore refuse any treatments. Those who get treatments are those who ADMIT that they are sick, and agree to be treated.
This is what distinguishes people like Bilbo Baggins, Saul, Matthew the tax collector, and Mary the mother of Our Lord. Indeed they have been chosen, but most importantly, in humility they have said "Yes!" to their calling.
May we obtain the grace to confess that we are sick and that we need a doctor, because the Divine Physician is looking forward to bring us back to health. And may we be encouraged and inspired to bravely say "Yes!" to our callings. Amen.
Daily Reading for Saturday, 18 January 2014
First Reading — 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1
Responsorial Psalm — Psalm 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Gospel Reading — Mark 2:13-17


Image: "The Calling of St. Matthew", Caravaggio, 1599-1600

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