“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.”
Jesus says these words during his discourse on the Bread of Life. One could state them positively as, “Everyone who comes to me comes because the Father is drawing him.” In other words, our relationship with God—faith, the life of grace, prayer—is all a result of God’s initiative, not ours.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
This was impressed upon me very clearly one year after a retreat. To begin my prayer times, I was using a short prayer as an invitation to Jesus to “come.” I found it very helpful, but after using it for some months, it suddenly hit me that I had the wrong idea. I was not really the one inviting Jesus to come. Jesus was inviting me, and my prayer was the result of his initiative. I could pray “Come!” only because God had invited me first. All prayer—every time we turn to God—is a response to God’s prior call and invitation.
So what difference does it make who starts it—whether we turn to God and initiate prayer or vice versa? Well, think of the difference between inviting someone to a party and being invited. It makes a lot of difference. If God is the one who invites me to prayer, then I’m not the hostess of the party; I don’t have to make things happen. I just have to be present, attentive, and engaged, and what happens is up to God. Even though our part is a response to God’s prior initiative, it is an indispensable part. Jesus says something along these lines when he later says to the apostles, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (Jn 15:16). He is the one who made the choice, but . . . they did respond to his call.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of Ordinary Time in: Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34