No matter what aspect of religion you consider, we are always lead back to the basic truth that it is the Lord who is our all. God gives everything, and does so freely with no strings attached. We cannot earn or deserve God’s self-giving, nor can you pay God back once you have received. We can be grateful, but even our gratitude benefits us rather than God. It makes us grow in grace and so open us up to even greater desire for the fulfillment of all desire.
This truth is marvelously dramatized in the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. It is obviously the Lord who has planted the thirst for the divine in the heart of this man and prompted him to seek the satisfaction for that thirst in the prophet Isaiah, even directing him to a specific oracle. It is the Spirit who sends Philip to the eunuch to bring his budding faith and his hunger for God to its flowering. Philip baptizes him and “the man went on his way rejoicing.” That rejoicing is expressed in today’s responsorial psalm.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus teaches the same truth: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Grace means free gift. Faith means accepting the gift and opening the veins of one’s whole being to its blessed warmth, healing, and nourishing.
We cannot know that God is drawing us. Once we know something, we cannot accept it on faith. However, the very fact that we constantly seek out God in the Word and in the Eucharist is a reassuring sign that the Lord is drawing us.
One can wonder at the nature of this “holy exchange of gifts.” The Lord certainly seems to be shortchanged. We receive Jesus, the bread of life, and all we have to offer in return is a grateful heart. Actually, that is all God really wants from us, for a grateful heart is the best possible soil for an even greater outpouring of love, and pouring out love is what God seems to enjoy most.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator