Our second reading for this Sunday from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is one of my favorite readings in the Church’s liturgy. It is packed with powerful phrases that get to the heart of what it means for us to live as people of faith, that the Father “destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:4-5) and that “we might exist for the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:12)
As I read through this reading again, the verse that struck me was the following: “In Him we were also chosen.” (Eph 1:11) The word ‘chosen’ immediately called to mind the new series on the life of Jesus called The Chosen. It seems as though more and more people are encountering this series and sharing how much the depiction of Jesus and His disciples in the series has been fruitful to them. In a story I read about the series, the filmmaker Dallas Jenkins described his desire to present Jesus in a way that is “a little bit more personal, intimate, immediate.” In my experience with this series, the series has definitely accomplished that.
This past week, I was helping to lead a summer program for high school students focusing on our call to discipleship. In a session that I led on prayer, I used a clip from the series, the one of the miraculous catch of fish. I invited the participants to pay particular attention to the face of Jesus as He spoke to Peter and as He observed the miracle unfolding. As I watched the clip with them, I was struck with the eyes of Jesus, how He looked upon Peter with great love as He invited Him to trust, putting out the nets after an unsuccessful night of fishing. Then, I was moved by the joy in His face as He watched Peter and those in the boat haul in a huge catch of fish. I then invited the participants to realize that they could use that image, that gaze of Jesus, to give them an idea of how He looks at them – with love, with delight, with joy. He does so because each of us has been chosen by Him, chosen to be His beloved children, and chosen to live the fullness of life that comes from following Him.
I would invite all of you to do this little exercise as well. If you go to your favorite search engine (or directly to YouTube) and search for “the catch of fish The Chosen” you should see a video that is about 5:19 in length. Watch that video with particular attention to the face of Jesus, then bring that image of Jesus to prayer, allowing yourself to be the object of His loving gaze toward you. Doing so can be a powerful way to enter into prayer, and it is an image we can go back to over and over again as we are invited to live with constant awareness of our being chosen by Him to be His adopted children.