Thursday of Third Week of Easter


"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.

Calvinist theology emphasized the privilege given to Christian believers. Not everyone was chosen to hear or accept the Word of God. According to that teaching, some were doomed from the start. The Christian, knowing her exceptional status, should guard against losing it, although she couldn't really lose it -- "once saved, alway saved"
The dogma is known as "double election." The first election gathered God's blessed ones; the second is for the unchosen who, by default, were "selected"  for damnation. I can understand the reasoning of Calvinist doctrine but I don't buy it. I think it discounts the work of the Holy Spirit.
In today's gospel we hear that, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him." There are many who don't accept or understand the gospel because they have not yet recognized that the human being cannot, and need not, understand the mysterious Gospel.
On a human level, if I had to understand Einstein's theory of relativity before I could use it, I could not navigate a foreign city with GPS. I'd have to unfold the paper map and read it carefully. (But then I'd have to solve another unfathomable mystery, how to refold the dang thing.) More than a few people have explained "relativity" to me but I don't get it. All I know is, it works.
Speaking spiritually and from my own experience, I know something about celibacy. When I have been moved by love I was certain I was called to celibacy; when my heart was embittered by anger or disappointment, I was not so sure. I suppose married people feel the same way toward their spouses and children. Moved by love they open their hearts to those God has given them; embittered they can neither love nor be loved. 
Can I explain that to non-believers? Not really. When they do the numbers it doesn't add up. 
Jesus' teaching, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him..." concerns those who have the Holy Spirit moving within them. They're attracted to the Lord. They want to know more about his birth, life, death and resurrection.
Those who believe that all life should be rational, goal-directed and manageable, leave little room for the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. Even if they welcome an artistic, creative impulse, it must bend back upon the self and serve their own ends.
The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus come from the Father and return to the Father even as they draw us into the love of one another and our Trinitarian God. We celebrate this mystery with our Eucharist, which we call "Holy Communion." Approaching the altar during the communion procession we are drawn to the Father.
Jesus' teaching means no one can rationally conclude there must be a supreme god and then presume to "know" that god. The initiative is always God's. If we have a desire to know God, it's God's Spirit who draws us to the Father through Jesus. In that case, we have been given the Wisdom to let ourselves be drawn into Love. We are saved by our willingness, not by willfulness.
The Calvinist doctrine overlooked the work of the Holy Spirit and the necessary "disposition" which that Spirit awakens in us. It relied upon a willful remaining in the Church. But no one is arbitrarily doomed by a "double election"; rather, some cling to their suspicions, resentments and bitterness and will not let themselves be drawn into the gracious mercy of God's presence.

Please pray that no crazies do anything terrifying on this April 19

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.