Like bishops, each pope has a coat of arms and a motto. Benedict XVI’s motto was “Co-laborers in Truth,” Bl. John Paul II’s was “Totally Yours.” Pope Francis’ motto is Miserando atque Eligendo, “Lowly but Chosen.”
The People’s Pope, The People’s Motto
Pope Francis takes his motto from a homily of St. Bede on the calling of Matthew in the Gospel of Matthew. St. Bede said that, “He [Jesus] saw him [Matthew] through the eyes of mercy and chose him.”
While this has been his motto since he was made Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1997, it is quite fitting for the man who has already been called “The People’s Pope.” Not merely because he is “lowly, but chosen” to lead our Church, but also because we are all “lowly, but chosen.”
Lowly, But Chosen for Mission
Jesus has looked upon each one of us with the “eyes of mercy,” and called us to himself. He has chosen each of us to enter into a deep, personal relationship with him. He has also chosen each of us to be like Matthew, his disciple, dedicated to winning souls for his kingdom. Jesus has personally called each of us to a mission.
This makes me think of another time Jesus calls someone in Matthew’s Gospel:
16And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” 17…”If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”…20The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
– Matthew 19:16,17, 20-22, emphasis added
I want to draw your attention to Jesus asking him to “Come, follow me.” When Jesus asks someone to “come, follow me,” he’s inviting them to be an apostle, an integral part of his mission on earth. Other people he comes across (Bartimaeus, the woman caught in adultery, the demoniac in the graveyard) he tells them to “Go, for you have been forgiven/healed/etc.” Only the rich young man is called to “come and follow.” But he doesn’t. “He went away sorrowful.” He was sorrowful for two reasons:
- He came right up against what he was made for and didn’t go for it. He was invited to undertake the mission of his life, the very task he was made to do, the good work prepared ahead of time for him, and walked away.
- He walked away from Jesus and back to his many possessions, which he knew would not, and never could, fulfill him. He stared his destiny, his purpose, in the face (quite literally), and retreated to his life of unfulfilling comfort.
Who Will You Be?
Jesus is calling you. He calls you to a deep, intimate relationship with himself, and he is calling you to be a modern-day disciple, to an integral part of his mission on earth, to introduce others to the saving Love who washes away their sins. Will you answer the call? Will you, like Matthew, rise and follow?
Or will you be the rich young man? Will you hear the call but walk away sad? Will you embrace the plan God has prepared for you to give of yourself and change peoples’ lives, or will you cling to what you’ve planned for yourself? Walk towards life-changing mission, or walk away sad, back to things that will not fulfill?
By Christmas of my senior year of college, I had planned out my life. I was going to apply for a joint peace corps/grad program that would have sent me to Texas Tech for a year then somewhere in the developing world. After that, I would return to America and become an elementary school teacher in New York City.
Then I realized I was “lowly, but chosen.”
At the FOCUS National Conference that winter, a nun, speaking to 3,000+ students with a message tailor-made for my heart said, “You are our hope. It’s young people who will change the culture.” With those words, Jesus looked at me with the eyes of mercy, and chose me, a 21-year-old guy who needed some work, to be an ambassador for the King of Kings.
I think some of you reading this right now, especially my brothers out there, are being called to be missionaries with FOCUS. You don’t need to be fresh out of college this May to apply. Many men have left careers that didn’t satisfy in order to join this mission. As a missionary with FOCUS, I’ve spent the last five years of my life bringing the Gospel to students on college campuses, equipping them to bring it to others. I have been the bearer of light in the darkness. I have seen Jesus radically change lives. And I am not worthy of this work. I am lowly, but called. And because I have said yes to that call, the Holy Spirit has done amazing things in the lives of college students around me. There are students wandering in the desert, dying of a thirst only the blood of Jesus can quench. Will you lead them to the source?
Brothers, I am specifically putting the call out to you. A number of men will be launching into missionary life this coming year, but I am looking for 35 more men to join me in this mission. Jesus has already called you to mission. I put it before you to pray, apply, and see if Jesus is looking at you and inviting you to his mission within FOCUS.
Answering the Call
1. Pray for Openness to God’s Call
Thank you for the many gifts you have given me, especially my faith.
Please look upon me with the eyes of mercy,
and grant me the grace to hear your voice.
I offer you my heart, my will, and my plans.
Conform them to yours.
Give me the courage to follow you, wherever you may lead me.
In Jesus’ name and by his blood, have mercy and hear my prayer.
2. Go online and look over the application
3. Give Jesus an hour of your time to fill out the application and submit it.
The next step of the application process is an interview weekend in either Denver or Philadelphia. If you’d like to be considered for an interview in Denver, applications are due March 29th (Good Friday). For the Philadelphia interview weekend, applications are due April 5th.