He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
By Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S.
Go out into an open field, far away from the city lights at night, and it’s an amazing show. All of those stars, light years away from each other and from us. You are one person on a planet of nearly eight billion people, and the universe is unbelievably enormous. It’s probable that there are billions of planets like ours in the universe.
How easy it would be to take that all in and feel insignificant, a meaningless speck in a vast universe. But today’s reading from Ephesians tells us differently. You and I are not some sort of cosmic accidents who happen to be alive today. We were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. You and I are alive right here and right now for a reason.
None of us is an accident and God desires that each of us spend eternity with him in heaven. In the depths of his divine heart, long before your parents or grandparents were born, God chose you. In the midst of making this grand and expansive universe, he decided to make you. He made you “to be holy, and without blemish before him.” You are a wonderfully unique creation of God, and he made you to be a saint.
The holiness you are called to is unique to you, and it may well be a surprise. When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John he said “I will make you fishers of men.” They had no idea what he meant, and it was a life unlike anything they had known before. Amos the prophet never expected to be God’s prophet, he “was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.” These are, of course extreme examples. The call to be an apostle or a prophet is not a call we all receive, but we are all called to something and it’s important to God.
In the Gospel, Jesus sends out the Twelve to preach and to drive out demons. He gives them no warning; they aren’t given time to prepare for the trip. He sends them out empty-handed; they are to take nothing but the clothes on their back, and rely entirely on hospitality and Providence. We know that they will succeed, although there were probably a couple of towns whose dust had to be shaken from their feet. As is often the case, we hear only of the successes, the glory stories.
They lived into the purpose for which God had chosen them “before the foundation of the world.” God had made them and prepared them for that moment, and God worked through them to be a blessing to others. That is the lesson of this Gospel. In sending them out empty handed, Jesus was forcing them to rely not on themselves, but on God. The glory that would be shown and the grace that would be imparted all came from God.
Ages ago, God decided who you were to be, and precisely when and where you were to be born. He has a plan for you, and has given you everything you need to live into that plan. Like the Twelve, he sends you out to share his message with the world. When we rely entirely on ourselves, we tend to get in the way. But when we go empty-handed, relying entirely on Providence, God works wonders.
This week’s invitation is to rely less on ourselves and more on God. Trusting that Providence will give us what we need in those moments that matter. When Providence doesn’t give us what we think we need, maybe we didn’t really need it.
Originally from Alameda, Calif., Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S., served for a number of years at St. Agnes Parish in Los Angeles. He is now the vocation director of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.