I think one could make an argument the action that makes us most human is to ask, “Why?” I would like to show that while asking the question why does lead us to understand the cause of things, it also leads to something further in our spiritual life.
Everyone seeks to find the cause when they ask the question, “Why?” My nieces and nephew always ask my brother and sister that question-and mostly at inopportune moments! Children in elementary school ask their parents why the crossing guard wears bright colors. Teenagers ask their parents why their curfew is at ten o’clock. College students ask their professors why their research papers must be double spaced. The point is, it is a question that humans frequently ask about the people and environment around them.
Cardinal Robert Sarah asked himself this question as he contemplated. In his book, God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicholas Diat, the Cardinal was asked about his ordination to the priesthood after so much political turmoil in his country. He remarked about the day of his ordination and the significance of being the only seminarian ordained that day. He notes, “On that summer day in 1969, after so many accidents and tribulations, political upheavals in my country, travels, sorrows, and joys, I was the sole “survivor” of this adventure. Why did God pay so much attention to me? Why had God pampered me by giving me the supernatural strength to stay the course? Why did God want me to be the last priest ordained before the arrest of Archbishop Tchidimbo in December 1970? It is very difficult for me to answer these questions. One after another, my companions left, and I found myself alone before the altar of the cathedral.”
Compared to the Cardinal, sheltered in Western Culture, the crosses I face pale in comparison to the struggles of Cardinal Sarah as he served as priest and Archbishop in Guinea. Nevertheless, as a seminarian, I frequently find myself asking the question, “Why?” Why did God want me to discern the priesthood? Why did God send me to the seminary at thirty-five years old? Why do I have so many friends supporting me as I discern my vocation? Why are some people who I thought were close to me choose not to support me? Why do I have so many good priests in my life to serve as models for my priesthood if God calls me to ordination? And, why do my past wounds seem to squash me sometimes?
I believe the answer is simple, yet it is not easy. The answer lies in the verse from the Gospel of John. I did not choose God, He chose me. His Eminence Cardinal Sarah would probably say that he did not choose to be ordained by himself that summer day in Africa, God chose him. God chooses us and appoints us. He fills us with goodness until we have so much that goodness must spread.
My prayer is that we all understand. My friends, do you know what it means when one person chooses another? What does it mean when God chooses a man to study for the priesthood? Or a woman to study for a religious vocation? What does it mean when God chooses for us to suffer for His Glory? Or what does it mean when God brings us the joy of living this life?
The answer is love. For what does it mean when a husband chooses a wife? Or a wife chooses a husband? What does it mean when they choose to bring children into the world with God’s blessing? What does it mean when a teenager comforts another teenager who is being bullied? What does it mean when our friends take us out to dinner when we did not get the job we wanted? Or when a parent answers a hundred irrelevant and irrational questions from their four-year-old child with the patience of a saint? This is love, my brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves us, and we must love each other in return. For most of us, our lives are never as bad as they seem. May the Lord Bless You!!!!