Antonio, P. Pueyo
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 12, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

Big corporations sometimes go headhunting. No, this is not the ritual that some tribes used to engage in. Corporations look for chief executives to lead and manage their business. They pay big money to entice people with the necessary qualifications, experience and track record. When hiring a person for any job, the hiring officer looks at the applicant's resume to see if she has the proper qualifications. Some people may be under qualified for the job that is available. If they are hired, they have to undergo more training. Others are overqualified, like a person with a doctor's degree applying for a filing clerk's position.

In the Gospel this Sunday Jesus said, "The harvest is abundant but the workers are only few" (Mt. 9:37). He then called the twelve disciples. We normally expect Jesus to call people with some social standing and with the proper qualifications, such as experience, educational background, and religious piety. Instead. he called ordinary folks to constitute his inner circle of friends. Many were fishermen, one was a tax collector, and one was a zealot, a rebel. Except for Paul, later on, none was a Pharisee or a scribe. These people were seemingly under-qualified for the great challenge and commission to make disciples of all nations. (Mt. 28:19)

God thinks differently. He did not call the disciples because they had the qualifications, rather they became qualified because they were called. As St. Paul says in the second reading, "Christ died for us when we were still sinners and unable to do anything" (Rom 5:6). God did not wait for us to be deserving in order to send His Son. Rather, He sent Jesus even when we were undeserving. As we see in the first reading, the Lord God did the same thing when He appointed Israel to be His chosen people, "You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. 19:6). They were not perfect but they were chosen. It is not by our own merit but by His goodness that God calls us to be His special friends.

Good teachers, coaches, and leaders know the effectiveness of affirmation and positive expectations. When one expects people to perform well and communicates this expectation to them, they generally perform well. Experiments have been done on the so-called "Galatea effect". When a person is constantly affirmed regarding certain qualities, she tends to develop these qualities. This is not just good psychology. This is the way God treats us. God sees His own Divine image in us, no matter how soiled we perceive it. No matter how dirty the prodigal son is, the father embraces him because he is his son. St. Francis could embrace the leper because he sees him as a brother.

If God sees what is good in us, shouldn't we start seeing what is good in ourselves and others? As the Gospel says, "You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift."(Mt. 10:8)

Action starter: Catch people doing something good, and tell them. Affirm yourself, "I am good. I am made in God's image."