“For many are called, but few chosen”

Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom)


Then He said unto him: a certain man made a great supper and bade many; and sent His servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden: Come for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuses. The first said unto him: “I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused.” And another said: “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused.” And another said: "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”

            So that servant came and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

            For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper, for many are called, but few chosen. (Lk. 14, 16:24)

This Gospel reading ends with words that are indeed terrible: "For many are called, but few chosen." The Lord, who created the world in order to share with it His Eternal Divine Joy, is faced, instead, with cold rejection by that very same world. He calls upon all, but being chosen depends on us. With love, He created all things for joy and life eternal, but it is necessary for us to respond to Love with love and to enter into the joy offered to us by God. The picture we are shown in this Gospel story is simple. It describes with such accuracy all the states of the soul, all the reasons why we have no time for God and no interest at all in eternal life.

            The Lord has prepared a feast - a feast of faith, a feast of eternity, a feast of Love. He is sending for those whom He had long ago warned that such a feast will take place and had bidden them to be prepared. One of them answers: "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go and see it and claim it. This land is my homeland. I was born on the land. I live on it, my bones shall rest in it. How can I not go and make sure that at least a part of it will belong to me? The heavens are God's, let the land be mine…" Do we not act in very much the same way? Do we not put our efforts into planting our roots so deeply that nothing may shake us? Do we not try to secure our lives by all that is of the earth, while we are on the earth? And we think: we will gather the goods of the earth and there will come a time when all the work is done and then we will have time to think of God!…

            In this story we are given another example. The Lord sent His servants to call yet others to His feast, and they answered: “We have bought oxen and we must go and try them. We have a job to do. We cannot be idle. It is not sufficient to be of the earth - one must work for the fruits of the land. We have no time for feasts in the Kingdom of God. It comes too early with its calls for eternal life, the contemplation of God, the joy of Divine love - we need to finish our work on the land. And when all the work is done, and we are left with only pitiful remnants of the human mind, body, strength and ability, then let Him take what is left. But at this moment, our land is at stake. We must leave something behind for posterity, as if something will remain of us a decade or two after our death.”

            And the Lord calls yet others to Him and they answer: "Earthly love has come into our life. I have taken a wife, how can I tear myself away from this love in order to enter a kingdom of a different kind of Love? Yes, heavenly Love is greater, it reaches much more deeply, but I do not want this all-encompassing Love. My desire is for personal tenderness. I wish to love one person so much that nothing and no one in the world can mean as much to me. I have no time now to enter the chambers of eternity. The Love that dwells there is the limitless, all-enveloping, eternal Divine Love, but the love of this earth is according to the moulds of my own heart. Leave me Lord, let me revel in my earthly love and when nothing of it is left, receive me then into the chambers of Your love!"

            We act likewise. In this world we always have matters so urgent to attend to, that there is no time for God's work or for a life with God. We too find love in this world, a love that excludes the love of God. "Death will come and then we shall rise." This is our answer to God's love. The Lord calls us: "Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I shall give you rest, you will know love! You will meet one another face to face, O people of God, and not as on earth, seeing each other as through a fog, falling into misunderstandings, hurting and wounding one another. You will rise in the kingdom of God and everything will be transparent; the understanding of the mind, the knowledge of the heart, the aspirations of the will, Love, everything will be as clear as crystal…" And we answer: "No, Lord! All this will come in Your time. Let us exploit the earth that we live on. " And we exploit it and live on it until the time the earth, having given us all that she can, takes back what she and the Lord had given: "For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Then the land that we bought will become a graveyard. All of our labor, that which had separated us from a true relationship with both God and man, all  will disappear even from human memory. When we enter into eternity, the earthly love that had seemed so great, will appear as narrow as a dark dungeon cell. But because of it we had answered God's call with: "No! We do not want you Lord! It is the land we desire, our own toil, our earthly love that we wish to live with until the end of our lives!"

            Few are chosen, not because God finds few men worthy of Himself, but because few of us find God worthy of replacing a piece of land, an hour of our daily business, a moment of our intimacy. There are many called - all are called, but how many of us will answer? In order to enter the feast of faith, the feast of eternity and into Life, it is enough to answer Love with love.                                   

Shall we not answer to God's Love: "I love You Lord"?