Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.” John 6:44
One thought that I have been ruminating upon during this time of quarantine is the God is in control. God is not a dictator or even a benevolent dictator (your humble pastor is a benevolent dictator). God the omniscient, omnipotent, the all-loving creator that continually invites us to enter into a relationship with him. Today’s readings remind us of God’s courtship. The first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles 8:26-40 shows us that God made the invitation to Philip to go and find the Ethiopian Eunuch sitting in his chariot reading from the Prophet Isaiah. Both the Eunuch and Philip bot responded to God’s invitation.
Today’s Gospel passage reveals to us an excellent spiritual principle we need to understand and live if we are to grow close to God. It is the principle of being drawn to Jesus by the Father.
First of all, it’s essential to understand the first part of what Jesus says: “No one can come to me unless…” This tells us that coming to Jesus in faith, growing in that faith, and growing in our love of God is not something we can do on our own. Coming to faith is a response to God’s action in our life. We must respond with humility and surrender.
This is important to understand if we wish to establish an authentic relationship with Christ because it reveals to us the fact that we have to let God take the first step in that relationship. When we let Him do this, it is our responsibility to then respond.
Of course, this does not mean we sit back in a passive way, waiting for God to reach out. God is constantly reaching out, constantly speaking, and constantly drawing us to Himself. So, our first responsibility is to tune into His gentle “wooing.” This comes in the form of gentle promptings of grace, inviting us to turn more completely to Him and to surrender more fully each and every day.
In our busy world, it is so very easy to let ourselves become distracted by the many competing voices. It is easy to hear the pulling, and even pushing, of the world and all its enticements. The world has become quite good at penetrating our short attention spans and offering quick satisfactions that ultimately leave us empty.
We have experienced during the quarantine and subsequent suspension of public Mass, bishops, and priests taking to the world wide web. Posting videos of Masses being said in empty Churches or at dining room tables in their rectories. Holy Mother Church should not shy away from using technology to reach out to people, especially in times of crisis, etc. However, when bishops or priests use social media to “make the Church relevant,” well, they are playing into the secular world’s idea of fast and furious enticements and forget that the Church is eternal.
We must remember that God’s voice and His invitation are quite different. They are found in interior silence. However, we need not be in a monastery in order to achieve this interior silence. Rather, it is achieved by faithful periods of prayer each day, and a formed habit of turning to God in all things. It is achieved when we respond to God’s calling, and then do it again, and again, and so forth. This builds a habit of being drawn, hearing, responding, and being drawn in even closer to respond again. Our time of quarantine is ending, and so I encourage you all to use the remaining days to seek God in the interior silence of your heart.
Reflect, today, upon how well you listen to God. Try to find at least a few minutes (or more) of silence today. Close your eyes and listen. Listen to God, speaking to you. When He draws you, respond to Him with much generosity. This is the best choice you can make each day!
May God bless you.
Rev. Fr. Douglas A. Ondeck