Voices ever ancient, ever new. Easter, Week 3: Thursday

“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)

Saint Augustine of Hippo offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“Do not think that you are drawn against your will. The soul is drawn also by love. And in case someone says to us, “How can I believe with the will if I am drawn?” I say that it is not enough to be drawn by the will; you are drawn even by delight. What is it to be drawn by delight? “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” There is a certain craving of the heart to which that bread of heaven is sweet. If the poet could say, “Every person is drawn by his own pleasure” — not necessity but pleasure; not obligation but delight — how much more boldly ought we to say that a person is drawn to Christ when he delights in the truth, when he delights in blessedness, delights in righteousness, delights in everlasting life? Do not the bodily senses have their pleasures, and the soul its? Give me one who loves, who longs, who burns, who sighs for the source of his being and his eternal home, and he will know what I mean.

But why did he say, “Except my Father draw him?” If we are to be drawn, let us be drawn by him to whom his love said, “We will run after the fragrance of your ointment.” But let us see what is meant by this. The Father draws to the Son those who believe on the Son because they consider that God is his Father. For the Father begat the Son equal to himself. And those who think and believe truly and seriously that he on whom they believe is equal to the Father, these are the ones the Father draws to the Son. Arius believed the Son to be a creature; the Father did not draw [Arius]. One whom the Father has drawn said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And so was said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.” This revelation is itself the drawing. For if earthly objects, when put before us, draw us how much more shall Christ, when revealed by the Father? For what does the soul long for more than truth? Here, we can more easily be hungered than satisfied, especially if we have good hope. There, we shall be filled. This is why he adds, “And I will raise him up at the last day,” as if he said, he shall be filled with that for which he now thirsts at the resurrection of the dead, for I will raise him up.” (Tractates on the Gospel of John, 26)

Almighty ever-living God,
let us feel Your compassion more readily
during these days when, by Your gift,
we have known it more fully,
so that those You have freed from the darkness of error
may cling more firmly to the teachings of Your truth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!