"They shall all be taught by God"

"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. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.'"
(John 6:44-45)
The Gospel reading for the Third Thursday of Easter is another portion of the the Lord's Bread of Life discourse. There is much to unpack here.

Of course, the overall thrust of this whole section of John's sixth chapter is on the Eucharist. However it is important to pay attention to the details of what the Lord tells the crowd, because there are many theological gems hidden here that are easily overlooked.

Today's gem comes in the form of the somewhat obscure statement above: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him."

Is this the Jesus arguing for some kind of Calvinistic version of predestination?

Far from it.

Note that there are two things that are required to be 'raised up on the last day': the Father has to draw the person, and they have to allow themselves to be drawn: "Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me."

Both the call and the response are necessary.

Jesus is making it clear, however, that the call come from God himself.

It is easy as a preacher or teacher to delude yourself into thinking that you are bringing souls to Christ. It isn't true. We who preach and teach the Gospel are, in our own small ways, instruments that the Father uses to introduce people to His Son, but, ultimately, it is God alone that does the calling.

This is theologically significant as the underpinning of the Catholic understanding of Faith, Hope and Charity as theological virtues: virtues given to us by God, through grace, and not something that stems from our own human efforts.

But it is also a reminder to those that like Christian apologetics. As important as it is to "always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope" (1 Pet 3:15), it is also important to remember that it isn't you that saves souls or brings people to Christ.

That is God's job...so don't take yourself or your human arguments too seriously.

Even Peter reminds us to give those reasons "with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:16). Our goal should never be to argue someone into the faith or to prove them wrong about theirs. The goal is to allow people to see the beauty of the hope that we have in order to help break down the intellectual barriers that make it difficult for them to respond to the Father's personal call to them.

We explain why we hope in the Lord and his Church, then we get out of the way.

Don't get so puffed up about your own knowledge of the faith that you try to do God's work for him. It sounds silly, I know, but I've seen it. Too many times.

God want's your help, but he doesn't need it, strictly speaking. Rather, you need it.

It is like a parent that invites a little child to help with fixing dinner or cleaning the house. It could get done better and faster without you. That is true whoever you are, from the Pope on down. God is inviting you to participate in his work to help guide and teach you.

So, don't presume to sit in the Master's seat. Be humble, be loving and be thankful for the opportunity.

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