For Father John, binge-watching a new TV series brings awareness, joy, and the desire to share
Before the pandemic, I lived and worked as a missionary priest in Bogotá, Colombia. I returned home to Canada at the beginning of the pandemic for health reasons but continue my ministry (through Zoom and telephone!) as a chaplain and teacher at an all-boys private school, and by accompanying a group of young adults that meets at my parish. During these long months, I have continued to meet my students each week for catechism classes, and every Saturday night, I join the young adults for School of Community.
At the beginning of my time home, I was introduced to a new television series called The Chosen through a commentary on a Catholic news site. I decided to check it out, discovering on YouTube the Christmas pilot episode and the subsequent eight episodes of the first season. The Chosen is a historical drama based on the life of Jesus Christ and his followers.
What struck me the most as I binge-watched the whole first season in a few days can be expressed in the title itself, The Chosen. The stories of Mary Magdalene, Andrew and his brother Simon, Matthew the tax collector, and in a special way Nicodemus, are told through their personal calling and meeting with the Lord. What binds this diverse group of characters together is how they were called and chosen by the Lord himself.
The encounter with this show awoke within me a greater awareness that I too have been chosen by Him. I recognized that even within these difficult circumstances of the pandemic God does not cease to call me to the truth of who I am, a beloved and chosen son of the Father.
I was so filled with joy by the encounter I had lived watching the show that I wanted to share it with those I accompany in Bogotá.
After watching the Christmas episode together through Zoom, we had a beautiful discussion about the experience of the poor shepherd who was called by God to come and encounter the baby Jesus in the manger. A friend commented how wild is God’s method of preference that he called and invited the poor shepherd in the midst of his suffering, and how he felt invited to identify with this poor shepherd’s experience. Another commented how it was interesting to see how the shepherd’s freedom was moved by the light that he perceived and how he began a journey towards the light which led him to behold baby Jesus in his arms.
I left the virtual meeting with much gratitude stemming from the awareness that God has given me friends, and surprising events, such as this show, to accompany me in order to help me to discover and live the beauty of being chosen by Him.
This experience of being re-awakened to the truth of who I am helped me to return to the work of teaching and to leading the School of Community with a renewed passion. I want to serve and look at the people I have in front of me during my virtual classes and moments of catechesis as friends called to live with the same awareness of being chosen by God.
Fr. John, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada