Ah! They’ve Won! (Gen 32:22-30; 2Tim 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8)

The one of possible application for our Sunday readings can be summed up as “One’s Being Chosen.” This summary carries perception that the Most High destined a number of certain people for salvation owning them for Himself when none of them has outdone good or bad. There are many Scripture references to this truth; for example, (2 Thess 2:13) says, “… brethren …. God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” also (Eph 1:4) confirms the same truth “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love.”

In view of God’s royal dominion over this subject, it is impossible to apprehend all aspects of election; however, with a certain degree of validity the study of this issue proves the fact that God’s making a chose was always based on certain principles from which men naturally shrink. The principles God has been guided by we can find throughout all Scripture, but the mystery of God’s foreseeing of the elect cannot be exhausted entirely. For instance, before the birth of twin brothers, Jacob and Esau, God loved the younger Jacob, but the elder Esau He hated, (Rom 9:13). Surely, those whom God loved, He chose too and vise versa that can be seen with Jacob and Esau. Many will agree with me that to explain why one is loved and other hated while they have not born yet is the same as by fingers to untie the ‘Gordian Knot.’ The legend says that many skillful people failed to untie the historical Knot except Alexander the Great who made use of his authority just sliced the Knot in half with a single stroke of his sword. So we, neglecting the scholastic explanatory of the mystery – Why one is chosen? – just will make it with a single illustration.

The following is our paraphrase of what Max Lucado, a Christian author, wrote with the words of his friend Kenny. It says that when Max’s friends visited the Disney World, they made a tour of the crowded Cinderella Castle to watch a morning show. Kenny told that in the course of playing the fairy there was a moment when the beautiful girl appeared as the legendary Cinderella. Shortly after most kids rushed to see the “princess” from a little distance with a hope to be favored by warmly look, touching, and converse. Accidentally Kenny caught sight of two children, probably brothers, standing far away from the rest and watching quietly. Oh boy, it turned out that the face of young brother had imprints of deformity. A little later one thought struck Kenny that the boy is craving for being turned into a handsome lad and join the Cinderella’s brotherhood. However, the miracle had not happened, but the wall of alienation retained its power over all pitiful. Then, don’t you think that Cinderella wished to break the obscure wall that separates small from great, rich from poor and free men from slaves? In our case, there would no point in continuing if she wouldn’t. But she destroyed the segregation! Just as the princess noticed the little hermit, she took her steps forward. Slowly advancing through the crowd, she cut off the bodily line and crossed the hall. Then, approaching the boy she knelt at eye level with him and placed a kiss on his face. “Ah!” was a common whispering, “He’s won a favor!” “It is unbelievable!” Meantime the heart of the boy was overwhelmed with that kiss likewise John Newton, a composer who was inspired after divine touching of his heart with this writing, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.”

Presumably, on hearing the story we’ve got some kind of understanding regarding the challenging question, – “Am I then chosen?” In so far, it gives us a courage to proceed to the next objective that is an exploration of certain qualities of the elects God has been guided by. Earlier than it may be expected I ask you confuse not a God’s call with God’s election; about these different concepts we have learned from (Mat 22:14); that says, “… many called, but few are chosen.” Here “chosen ones” in Greek – ἐκλεκτοί – also can be translated as selected or elected ones.

As we noted earlier, all the readings for today wonderfully set around the idea summed up as “One’s Being Chosen.” To help you see the matching of the readings under this caption, we will outline all of them within a paragraph. We begin with (Gen 32:22-30) that narrates a trial of the patriarch Jacob. We see him fighting with the stranger who has been thought as the Archangel Michael descended from Heaven to wrestle with Jacob. At that all-night-fight Jacob somehow could stand firmly against the mighty Angel, and at the break of the day he was still on his feat. And in the outcome of this wrestle, it was receiving the royal name “Israel” that means “Undefeated.” Israel may lose a battle, but it is impossible to win a war with him. The next reading from (2Tim 3:14-4:5) represents a scope of instructions handed down by the apostle Paul to “his beloved son” Timothy. The young man was chosen as a successor of the apostle Paul by virtue of God’s gifts having been revealed in Timothy during their missionary travels. From the Scripture and Tradition we’ve learned that Timothy’s entire suitability for the work of the ministry relied on his zealous in achievement and trust to God. The church highly commemorates him as the martyr for Christ’s sake, who “did learn kindness and goodness and was sober and temperate in all things.” And the Gospel reading from (Luke 18:1-8) narrates the parable of the persistent widow. The woman, regardless her desperate situation, continued steadfastly pleading the judge for justice. She had pleaded the arrogant judge on and on until he took her case. Saying this parable, the Lord draws parallelism between the two attitudes, the widow and his new followers that demands perseverance of their faith.

Now, can we say that endurance and perseverance of faith are the common virtues of the elect? Yes, they are! With respect to Jacob, we see him as a man of faith who had armed himself against his own unbelief, against his fear to loose God’s blessings. Previous of that night wrestling, Jacob had the wonderful vision of the pre-incarnate Son of God accompanied by the heavenly hosts descended and ascended from Heaven, (Gen 28:12-15). The most important part of the vision is the promise of the Lord who told Jacob, “I am with you, and will keep you whenever you go.” Please note that the mystery of Jacob’s success in fighting with the angel was hidden in Jacob’s trust to the promise of God with whom all things possible, (Mt 19:26). His faith in the promise of his God brought about his endurance and perseverance in achievement. And it pleased the Holy of Issrael who Himself is a Warrior on behalf of His people, – the people who keep His covenant and remember His commandments to do them, (Ps 103). But God does not need sinners!

It would be a good question if someone asked, “Beside of endurance and perseverance of faith could you mention anything else that may convince us in our election? If to base on our Sunday readings, they accompany with such signs as trials and persecutions. We found the interesting perception of a signs of election from the Jewish poet, Richard Beer-Hofmann who wrote, “Not to know dreamless sleep, Visions at night – and voices round by day! Am I then chosen? Chosen that all suffering calls me, demands me, and complains to me? …. That even the dumb look of the dying beast ask me: Why so?” On hearing this poetry someone may exclaim, “I am fine with visions and even voices possible, but why trials and persecutions?” Well, trials and persecutions are not the purpose of election but they are simultaneously outcome and sign of being elected. This truth can be taken for granted on the basis many passages from the Scripture including our epistolary reading. “For I (Paul) am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. ….,” (2Tim 4:6-8). This verse contains the apostle’s allusion of his martyrdom for Christ’s sake. As well Paul wants Timothy to be prepared for harsh time and persecutions for he knows that they are inevitable consequences of being chosen. He wrote, Timothy, “ …. be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry,” (2Ti 4:3,4). The expectation of the apostle past upon Timothy with striking accuracy. We have learned from Tradition that Timothy was zealous in the ministry handed down by the apostle. He ended his life as a martyr in the year 80; Timothy suffered death for Christ’s sake at Ephesus being stoned by the pagans.

Who are the elect if not the true disciples of Jesus Christ? The Lord wants them to reflect His light of truth to this world. They are distinguished from the rest by their perseverance of faith and their endurance of persecutions which befell them. From the apostolic age up to the present there is no boundary for anyone to enter in the glory of the elect people as well as to endure the cross of the true discipleship. Behold, the bell is “…. still chiming and calling. Calling the young and old to rest, but above all the soul distressed, longing for rest everlasting,” (LSB # 645). The composer points to the soul distressed, they somehow have obtained the better hearing of God’s calling. “Many in saving faith may come where Christ His message is bringing: “I know Mine own, Mine own know Me; Ye, not the world, My face shall see. My peace I leave with you,” (LSB # 645).

Now imagine yourselves as guests in “The Wedding Banquet” of the royal family due to your willingness to show up in the party, (Mat 22:1-14). At the end of the banquet the servants of the King will be assigned to bring to light the friends of the bridegroom. And after the gathering all them together, the prince will address to the chosen, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Afterwards, the rest of the guests shall be amazed with outburst, “These are the people whom we used to hold in derision and regarded as not worthy of a penny? How have they been numbered among the Sons of God? And besides, how are their portion among the saints?” Meantime the hearts of the chosen will be overflowed with song of praise. “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.”

Beloved in the Lord, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. (I Pet 1:2)

                                                              Amen

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