Drawn to Jesus by God’s Grace

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Deacon Matthew Bowe

There are many things that we are drawn to. I am drawn to delicious food, as you can tell. I am also drawn to playing golf, watching the Olympics, and spending time with friends and family. I have noticed that we can easily talk about the tangible and physical things that we are drawn to, whether it be sports, fishing, hunting, outdoor activities, card-playing, work, or any other thing. Curiously, I wondered how do we tell others about the spiritual things that we are drawn to? Examples include praying, going to Mass, charitable works, retreats, and any other sort of thing. Do we not tell people because we are not drawn to spiritual things, or do physical things attract us more than the spiritual things?

Currently, we are in the middle of the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John. Two weeks ago, it was the reading about the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus fed five thousand people with just five barley loaves and two fish. In that story, the power of Jesus can do a lot with the little that we can give Him. Last week, the crowds pursued Jesus seeking to have this bread always, and the reading concluded with Jesus saying that he was the bread of life. Whoever comes to Him will never hunger, and whoever believes in Him will never thirst. In his writings, the evangelist John never uses the word “miracle.” Rather, he writes about the signs that Jesus worked. A sign points toward something. A stop sign signifies that it is the law to stop at this intersection. In this Gospel, the physical signs point to a spiritual reality. In this Bread of Life discourse, the physical sign is the bread, and the spiritual reality is that Jesus is the bread of life. This is one reason John wrote the Gospel – to show that Jesus was not only fully human but also fully divine.

Now, we turn to today’s Gospel reading. The Jews are murmuring and struggling that Jesus said that He is the bread that came down from heaven. The crowd could see the physical reality, or the humanity, of Jesus. They knew that Jesus was the son of Joseph and of Mary. However, they were spiritually blind. Despite the wonders and the signs that Jesus worked, they saw not the divinity of Jesus, the true bread that came down from heaven. Our culture today disbelieves the spiritual reality of the created world and idolizes the physical world. It is a culture that espouses that “science is everything,” “follow the science,” and “do whatever makes you happy,” yet the culture fails to recognize that the created world is more than just the physical and the pleasurable. That is not to say that the Church is anti-science. The Church promotes and espouses the arts and the sciences. Science leads us to a deeper understanding of the created world and thus of our Creator. Science serves to deepen our knowledge of God. The culture says that it is unreasonable to believe in God, but I say that is unreasonable to not believe in God and the spiritual reality of Creation.

Then, Jesus sternly answers the murmurs of the crowd. There is a lot here, most of which I will leave for your spiritual meditation. In each of our lives, God always makes the first move. When we pray, it is because He first drew us to pray. When we give charitably, it is because He first gave us the grace to do so. Everyone is capable of being drawn by the Father, but not everyone responds to that invitation. The early Church Fathers, who wrote commentaries on this passage, noted that the Arians, fourth-century heretics who denied the divinity of Christ (even after the Church declared otherwise), were not drawn by the Father. Because they denied a truth of the faith, they denied Truth Himself, who is Jesus Christ. Thus, they could not be drawn by the Father because the Father does not draw us partially. He draws us to Himself fully. Even people today who support and are gravely involved in any immorality or injustice condemned by the Church or hold opinions contrary to the teachings of the Church deny Truth and are thus not drawn by the Father. There is something that is lacking.

This is why we should pray, my brothers and sisters, that everyone may be drawn in by the Father, into the Catholic Church, which safeguards the fullness of Truth and Faith. There is always hope, for God is merciful and kind, as the Psalmist says. Repentance and conversion are always possible for us so long as there is life in us. This is the first way in which we are drawn by the Father. To repent of our sinful ways and to turn back toward Him. As St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we should remove all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling, and malice and replace it with kindness compassion, and forgiveness. We should imitate Christ. The ultimate imitation is sacrifice (even death on a cross). Then, we listen to Father, humbly being taught by God, and we will come to Jesus. Jesus is the bread of life, of life eternal. It is not by our bodies that we believe, but it is by our spirits that we choose to believe, through divine assistance. We who believe will be raised up on the last day and have eternal life.

How is it that we are intimately drawn into a spiritual union with Jesus? Foremost, it is via the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The classic expression “You are what you eat” holds exceptionally true. Not only is there spiritual contact with Jesus, but we can also physically touch Jesus, for what was once ordinary bread becomes, by sacramental grace, the Real Presence, the Body of Christ. Jesus left us a Sacrament by which He is ever present on Earth. The Eucharist is the bread that comes down from heaven to lead us into heaven just as God came down from heaven and became Man. Whoever eats this bread will live forever, for this bread is the very flesh of Christ, Who is Life, and Jesus Who gives Life to the world. Brothers and sisters, let us pray that we may be drawn to Jesus today in this Blessed Sacrament, to believe more deeply in the Life of the world, and to delight in the heavenly things which are to come.

One Response to “Drawn to Jesus by God’s Grace”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Preach it, Father :)!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: