Contemplation: The Chosen

Contemplation: The Chosen

Contemplation: The Chosen 576 576 SVDP USA

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you,” Jesus explained to the twelve at the Last Supper. This small and most loyal group of His followers, who had left behind home and family, dropped their fishing nets to walk with Him, were not there because they had figured something out about Him – they were there because He had called them.

In His call, they were invited not only to follow, but to be taught, nourished, led to become like Him, and to bear fruit that would remain. This is the calling of all Christians, indeed, of all people. It is our vocation.

It is no coincidence that our specific Vincentian vocation follows Christ’s words almost exactly. Our vocation, as our Rule puts it, is “to follow Christ through service to those in need and so bear witness to His compassionate and liberating love.” [Rule, Part I, 1.2] Like the Apostles, to “seek to draw closer to Christ.” [Rule, Part I, 2.1] Also like the Apostles, it is not we who chose Him, but He who chose us.

This Vincentian vocation is our particular and special way of living our faith, and it is all the more special when we realize that we were chosen and specially called to it by Christ. If we are tempted from time to time to instead credit ourselves too much, we receive regular calls from Him to remind us who is chosen, and who chooses. He may call us from a darkened apartment, with the electricity cut off. He may call us at our food pantries because He is hungry. He may call us from a park bench, seeking shelter from the cold.

Time and time again, we do not choose Him, He chooses us, and when He does, we hear again His words that “as I have done for You, You should also do.”

And what is it He has done for us? What is it He calls us to do in turn for others? What is it He seeks when He calls the Conference helpline? Yes, we surely are called to bring whatever relief we can for the material needs presented to us, but we also must “never forget that giving love, talents and time is more important than giving money.” [Rule, Part I, 3.14]

The poor cry out, and often their cries are unheard, or ignored. What a great gift it is when they cry out to us, when they call us, when they give us the opportunity to answer and to serve. This is what Blessed Frédéric called “the sublime vocation God has given us. Would that we were a little bit worthy of it and bent easily to its burden.” [Letter 90, to Curnier, 1835]

And why shouldn’t we bend easily to it? The poor do much more than just call us. They choose us.


Am I joyful to answer each time He chooses me?

Recommended Reading

The Rule, Part I and the Gospel of John, Chapters 1415

  • I must admit that I am not always joyful to receive a call for a home visit. It is often and it is hard. I worry if I can do it right and if we have the funds to provide for the request. Then my heart gets in the way and I worry about every situation. I am so thankful to be reminded that we do not go alone and have seen Divine Providence handle a desperate situation many times. I pray daily for true and absolute faith in His Divine Providence and to continue the journey of the vocation that I was called to pursue.

    • Timothy P. Williams November 28, 2023 at 4:47 am

      I love the way you put that: “my heart gets in the way.” That tug on the heart is from God, though – he is not in the way, but gently leading us was we find our path to holiness – to Him. Please pray for me, my Vincentian friend, as I will pray for you.

  • Mr. Michael Kwiatek Sr. November 27, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    I’m not always full of joy when I get a call but am always grateful for the opportunity to be of service to others in need. It is almost selfish as I get so much joy in answering the call.

    • Timothy P. Williams November 28, 2023 at 4:54 am

      I does seem almost selfish – I’ve always thought of this as a central irony of our vocation. Bl. Frédéric even acknowledged this in a letter to his friend Léonce Curnier in 1834, saying that “Perhaps this motive of personal interest, this egoism which is at the bottom of our work, might cause it to lose something of your esteem. ”

      Yet we know, as he did, that it only works, it only really blesses us, when we approach the work selflessly. As you put it, the joy really comes when you’ve gone and given oof yourself in response to the call.

  • Thank you for a thought provoking reflection. Your closing question gives so much food for thought.

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