Give Me Someone Who Loves

Lenten Reflections 2016

No one comes to me unless the Father draw him. (Jn 6:). Someone objects: “If one is drawn, he comes unwillingly.” If he comes unwillingly, he does not believe; if he does not believe, he does not come. For we hasten toward Christ not by walking but by believing; we near him not by bodily motion, but by the heart’s will.... No one comes to me unless the Father draw him. Don’t think you are drawn unwillingly: the soul is also drawn by love. And we shouldn’t be afraid of people who weigh words but are incapable of understanding realities, especially divine realities, and who might criticize us for this passage of Scripture and say to us: “If I am drawn, how can I willingly [voluntate] believe?” I say: It is too little to say that you are drawn by the will [voluntate]; you are also drawn by pleasure [voluptate]. What does it mean to be drawn by pleasure? Delight in the Lord, and he will give you your hearts desires” (Ps 36, 4). There’s a certain pleasure of the heart [voluptas cordis] for which this bread from heaven is sweet. If the poet could say, “His pleasure draws every person” [Trahit sua quemque voluptas (Vergil Eclogue 2)] not need, but pleasure; not obligation but delight, then how much more strongly drawn to Christ must we believe a person to be who delights in the truth, delights in happiness, delights in righteousness, delights in endless life, all of which Christ is? Or is it only the body’s senses that have their pleasures, while the soul has no pleasures of its own? If the soul has no pleasures, why is it said: The children of men will hope beneath the shelter of your wings; they will be made drunk by the abundance of your house, and you will give them to drink from a torrent of your pleasures; for with you is the spring of life, and in your light shall we see light (Ps 35, 8-10)? Give me someone who loves, and he will understand what I am saying. Give me someone who desires; give me someone who hungers; give me someone wandering in this desert, and thirsty, and sighing for the spring in his eternal homeland: give me such a person and he will know what I’m saying. But if I’m speaking to a cold person, he doesn’t know what I’m saying. Such were those who were grumbling to each other.... [Peter confessed:] You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Note that Peter was drawn, and he was drawn by the Father. Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father in heaven. That revelation was itself what drew Peter [Ista revelatio, ipsa est attractio.] Show a green branch to a sheep, and you draw it. Show nuts to a boy, and he’ll be drawn. He’s drawn to what he runs toward; he’s drawn by loving it; he’s drawn without harm to his body; he’s drawn by the cord of his heart. If, then, earthly delights and pleasures draw when they are shown to those who love them..., does the Christ shown by the Father not draw? What does the soul desire more than the truth? For what ought its mouth be hungry, for what should it desire to have an inner palate healthy enough to discern the truth, except that it might eat and drink wisdom, righteousness, truth, eternity? (Augustine, Tr. in Ioan., 26, 4-5; PL 35, 1608-1609)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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