"...BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN..."

The Risen Christ
There are passages and phrases from Sacred Scripture which , in the post-Conciliar period, have come to induce confusion among many, even most, layfolk. The fault behind their difficulty lies with "spirit of the Council" homilists, and worse, lazy homilists. 

An example  is the "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani" cry of Christ from the Cross - "My God, My God, Why hast Thou abandoned Me?" It is simply ignored by the homilists - too lazy to point out that it is a quote from the Psalm 22:1 which was always related to the Messiah and well known to the Scribes and the Pharisees.Thus, not a cry of despair but rather an assertion of His Messianic role. Yet the people in the pews, largely unaware of this are left to wonder if God the Son on the Cross thought that God (which He is ) had abandoned Him.

But we are concentrating here on another phrase : ".....but few are chosen"

The latter day homilists let this phrase also simply pass by, usually without comment, or if note is taken of it, it is misinterpreted. At first blush it is certainly not an encouraging statement :

" Many are called, but few are chosen."( Matt. 22.14)  

What is the meaning of this ?
 




Father Romano Guardini (1885-1968)

In his famous book "The Lord",  first published in English in the late 1940s Father Guardini ventures into discussion of this phrase in the course of his examination of the Beatitudes. Father Guardini's book is generally full of enlightening and perceptive observations and analysis. Yet here , he seems to become somewhat entangled.

Let us try to follow his thinking :

In Part Two No. III he begins to sum up the Beatitudes , noting their revolutionary demands on mankind. That is to say, they move from  what actions man must perform as the Law prescribed, to requiring inner virtue so that purity of intent and its definition of love for others, must be the essence of man's new disposition.He takes the matter further, wondering if it is possible for man to meet this standard?

He then proceeds in short order to quote Matthew 7: 13,14 

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

He notes that Jesus came to" seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). It must be then, that it is certainly possible for at least some ordinary folk - those upon whom God's Grace is out-poured, to be saved. Father Guardini begins to wallow somewhat at this point, beginning to reflect on individuals' personal abilities to respond to God's Grace. He then moves along to reflect on the story of the rich young man who chooses not to accept Christ's invitation to follow Him because of his attachment to his worldly goods. This leads Christ to comment on how hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God.

 When this amazes the disciples ,Jesus repeats  "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God" (RSVCE Mark 10:24) They were "exceedingly astonished" and replied: "Then who can be saved?" ( 10:26) Jesus responds: "With men it is impossible, but not with God ; for all things are possible with God."( 10:27) 
Christ in Judgement
"With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible."( Matt 19:26)


THE MEANS TO SALVATION

Father Guardini  reflects on the beneficial role of the Church which Christ has established and armed with the seven sacraments to facilitate the provision of His Grace to man on his pilgrim way.

This comes into focus in Matt. 22 :1-14 - the parable of the Wedding Feast.Here the question of entry into the Kingdom of Heaven is again the subject of Our Lord's teaching.

We need to examine this passage carefully, because, as it occurs it can be deceptive. Most tend to see the "Many are called, but few are chosen" as applying  solely to the improperly dressed guest who is ejected and his relationship to the other guests at the feast.( They thus tend to identify it precisely as identical with "enter by the narrow gate" as related above.) But , on reflection we see that there is no logic in that , because in the parable only one person is ejected -thus "not chosen" and the vast majority remain. 

No, the parable's "many" includes all those originally invited who would not come, plus those later called to replace them when they would not come.  The parable is of course about the Jews and Christ's Church. The wedding guests invited are the Jews , the Chosen Race. But , over time, when God sends the Prophets to call them to the feast - to perfection, they manhandle them, reject them, kill them. And finally, He sends His Son and they finally will kill Him.Then God will send His servants, the disciples "out into the whole world" to invite everyone good and bad in to the feast,the Kingdom of God, which is the Church. But it is necessary to follow His teachings and accept His Grace - the wedding garment - to remain. 

The "few" are the remaining guests at the feast the faithful members of Christ's Church, the Kingdom of God. But we are warned of the need to do right and follow Christ faithfully - wearing the wedding garment of Divine Grace - if we are not to be ejected. These guests are the people who entered by the narrow gate.                                                                                                                                                      


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