"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last" (John 15:16).
Perhaps it is only in retrospect that we begin to understand that our lives have been shaped and directed by God's grace. Of course, we must make decisions, respond to opportunities, face adversity and seem to be guiding ourselves. But in the end, anything of lasting value we accomplish is revealed as pure gift, the result of being given resources and relationships that lift us up out of individual effort to something larger than we could ever have imagined.
This was certainly true of Catherine of Siena, whose feast we celebrate today. Catherine was gifted by God from childhood with an extraordinary sense of the divine presence. She rose from obscurity to guide governments and counsel popes. She was unlettered, yet produced a profound theology of the Incarnation of Jesus from her intimate encounters with him in prayer. In her brief 33 years, she changed the course of church history and left us with the model of woman who would not take no for an answer once she saw what needed to be done.
Jesus tells his disciples, and us, "You did not choose me; I chose you." Our yes to him carries us into the mystery of the Incarnation, God present in the flesh, our flesh, our lives active in the world. We rejoice to be part of the body of Christ, the community of men and women whose very lives have become love stories and adventures in grace.