We Have Been Chosen Out of Love, to Love!

In my time as a seminarian, I was able to be part of very important events, which have remained imprinted in my memory. Once, there was a gathering of Bishops from the Americas in the Sheraton, in New York, and we were asked to help with the set up and with the logistics in general. The bishop of my country was coming, as well as many other important people that I really wanted to meet. Indeed, I really wanted to go!

However, I was new in the seminary and there were many other men, much more experienced than me, who could do a much better service than me. I remember offering myself to go and the vice-rector saw my burning desire to go, and out of the abundance of his goodness, he chose me as part of the team that went and helped. I knew I did not have any merits to go there. I knew I had not done anything to deserve to be among the selected group who set up for such an important event. Also, I knew that my having been called to go there was simply the fruit of someone else’s kindness and love, who, overlooking merits, efforts, and qualifications, decided to choose me.

Today’s readings clearly indicate that this is exactly the way the Lord has acted toward us by calling us to be His own. He has chosen us not by our merits, our achievements, or our qualifications. He has chosen us out of love!

We Have Been Called

Indeed, in the Gospel Jesus says to his disciples: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” Through our baptism, we, as the disciples, have also been called by God, out of his own initiative. He has not asked for pre-requisites, or abilities, or qualifications. He has simply come to encounter us through His sanctifying grace, and to invite us to be united to him and to bear much fruit. And what is the fruit the Lord wants us to bear? The fruit the Lord wants us to bear is the fulfillment of the greatest commandment of all: “love one another.” It is in fulfilling this commandment that we manifest that we partake in the nature of God. In the second reading, St. John says that “everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God…for God is love.” Thus, what makes evident that we are disciples of Christ, chosen by Him, is that we love as He loved.

Love Like Jesus

However, I am sure we can all agree that to love like Jesus Christ is not always easy. We all face the challenge of loving others when they are different, when they contradict us, when they are not the way we expect them to be, or when they act in a way that goes against our plans and our views. How, then, can we fulfill our mission of disciples of Christ, if sometimes we do not love the other? Is it through our willpower, our strength or through our trying hard? Certainly not! How then can we love everyone, always? Only by remembering that our call does not come from us, but comes from God, and from the immense love He has for us, and for everyone. In the second reading, St. John makes this affirmation: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” We cannot forget this! Because He loved us first, God called us and chose us to be His own. In the measure in which we “remain in His love,” we will naturally love the others. We have been called out of love! If we are aware of this, our hearts will be full of gratitude, and they will be moved to offer the same love to anyone, even to those who, through our natural strength alone, we could not love.

Let us open ourselves to this love! Let us contemplate this Sunday the mystery of the election. God has called us out of love, to love and to share in His feelings for the others. Only through His grace can we reach the fullness of our vocation, which is to love as He loved, even to the point of giving our lives for the other. May the Lord, who has begun His work in us, bring it to fulfillment.

[Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17]

Fr. Justino Cornejo

Fr. Justino Cornejo, Ph.D., is a missionary priest, originally from Panama City, Panama. Answering a call from the Lord, he left home in 1996, to start his priestly formation at the Redemptoris Mater missionary Seminary of Newark, NJ. He was ordained in 2005. He received an M.A. in Theology from Seton Hall University, and, eventually, he completed his Doctoral studies, at Liverpool Hope University. Fr. Cornejo enjoys reading and playing sports. He resides at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, where serves as a Spiritual Director. He also helps the Itinerant Team of Catechists responsible for the Neo-Catechumenal Way in Connecticut.

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