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Late one afternoon I was walking out of my parish church in Chicago. I was chagrined to see a forlorn-looking man coming toward me. He was a drifter. I’m sure he had a tale of woe to tell me to get a few dollars. I was anxious to get home. I decided to give him $5.00 and send him off.

“What can I do for you?” I asked. “I’m hoping that you can help a fella on his way to Tennessee to see his sick daughter. I’m heading down to the bus station and…” “Yes, yes,” I said, cutting him off. “Well I am in a bit of a rush. Here’s $5.00. That’s all I can do for you today.” The man took the money. He looked at it without saying a word. He turned and headed for the street. Then he stopped and turned toward me. “I guess you think I’m supposed to say, ‘Thank you’,” he said. “Well, now that you mention it,” I said, “a little gratitude would be nice.”

“Well, I’m not going to thank you. You want to know why?” he sneered. “Why?” I asked. “Because you’re a Christian. You’re not helping me because you want to. You have to help me because He (pointing to the sky) told you to help me!” He turned and left. I stood there angry. But by the time I got home it finally hit me. This guy was right. I was cornered by my faith. I really had no choice. I had no options. I was a Chosen One. BTo be a Christian is to be a Chosen One. Boy Scouts build camp fires. Girl Scouts sell cookies. Soldiers fight wars. Country club members pay dues. Citizens pay taxes. Christians help beggars.

Listen to what Jesus says to us: “It was not you who chose me, but I chose you to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last” (John 15:16). I chose you! I chose you! That’s our problem as Christians. We didn’t choose Jesus. He chose us. And worst of all, He chose us for a Mission, to go and bear fruit that will last – to give $5.00 to drifters, to feed the poor and the hungry, to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile. Oh, there’s an initial feeling of being flattered, to have Jesus look at us and say, “You have not chosen me. I have chosen you.” But the flattery fades. We’re angry, or at least we’re annoyed, because down deep, we know we’re boxed in.

We can bow out, and many people do. We can say, “No thanks. You may have chosen me, but I don’t choose you. Thanks, but no thanks.” There’s a certain honesty to that. Worse though is to keep the label, “CHRISTIAN”, then choose to do or say things that make Jesus ashamed of us.

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