August 9, 2009
ORDINARY 19 (B)
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him. –
- John 6: 44
Our Lord is wrestling with the question of why it is that some people react to Him enthusiastically while many others react with indifference or even hostility. His solution to the enigma is to assert that those who are drawn to Him are people who already know the Father who sent Him. The love of God is already in their hearts, however obscurely. When they see that love blazing out of Jesus, they move toward it like insects to light after dark. Only those who have been touched by God’s amazing generosity can recognize it in Jesus. Here is an example of what I mean:
An inner-city health clinic sponsored partly by church funds was blessed with the volunteer services of a doctor & two nurses from the local parish. These three dedicated people had decided to devote 1 full year of their lives to this mission. It was not only physical medicine they were giving to the people, it was an unusual caring quality they were offering.
One night an old man was carried in on a stretcher. He was a skid-row type: alcoholic, dirty, smelly. It takes an experience like this to discover how badly a human being in this condition can smell. The man’s leg was a mass of infection. He had suffered an injury & allowed it to go unattended for days.
When he was brought in, one of the volunteer nurses immediately knelt beside the stretcher & began to clean the wound & prepare it for the doctor who had been summoned. Next to her stood a newspaper reporter. He had been assigned to do a feature story on the health clinic.
Feeling sick from the ugly sight & the unbearable stench, he turned away. With his back turned, he said to the kneeling nurse, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” The nurse replied quietly, “Neither would I.”
For us to even begin to understand the kind of love that will reach out to repulsive people to show them in a concrete way that God cares, we have to associate with people like that nurse who have themselves been touched by God’s generosity to them, people whose hearts have not been hardened, or even better, whose hearts have been melted by God’s love.
In his study of the great Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, Cyprian Smith develops this way of thinking. He writes:
“God cannot be found or grasped in the external world, but only in the inner world. If we seek Him outside, we shall find Him nowhere; if we seek Him within, we shall find Him everywhere. This is not to say that only the inner world is real. Both are real; both have their own measure of importance. But it is the inner world which has the priority & the greater importance…. Having discovered God within, we can discover Him without; but never the other way around.”
Our intuitions may allow us to recognize our Lord’s revelation; but His revelation goes well beyond our intuitions. In theological language, Creation & Incarnation are related, but Incarnation is intensified Creation, going well beyond what we could discover on our own. That is why we are drawn to the Light, but only if we have already experienced it in what someone has said or done for us. Willy-nilly, we can touch each other’s lives in ways we never suspected. AMEN!