Sermon in the Community Church .  9 August : John 6:35, 41-51. 

The words that we have just heard are the comment, the teaching, of Jesus after the feeding of the 5,000 to the disconsolate and unhappy who had seen the 5,000 happily going home, and he makes use of a rare image.  “No one can come to me unless the Father draw him”. It is the word “draw” that strikes me, for in the prophecy of Hosea at the end of the great poem that begins with “When Israel was a child I loved her” come these even more significant words “ I drew them with bands of love” not, alas the translation of the NRSV, but this is what Jesus is speaking about.  When the Lord draws it can only be with bands of love.  “Drawing” is always gentle, ships draw into port, a train draws into the station, there are overtones of home, the end of a journey so the Father draws us to Jesus. 

Just as John pondered and prayed over the picture he was painting, or rather the epiphany that he was giving to us, so this gospel, perhaps more than any of the others, lends itself to prayerful pondering.  As with so much in the gospel it reveals a part for each of us in the mystery of the Trinity, we cannot come to Jesus unless the Father draws us, and isn’t that drawing one of the activities of the Holy Spirit who is there to give us a right judgement at all times?  The right judgement is the working out of a desire to be close to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the members of the Trinity are bound with bonds of the closest love which are the bonds there to draw us.

The Father draws us away from the merely material, like the food dispensed for the 5,000; he calls us into a closer presence.  George Herbert graphically describes how the Father draws us, the weak and sinful for we have no rights in this world, only privileges, and as we pray let us thank God for these many privileges which we enjoy and none of which we deserve.

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

      Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

      From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

      If I lack'd anything.


'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'

     Love said, 'You shall be he.'

'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,

      I cannot look on Thee.'

Love took my hand and smiling did reply,

      'Who made the eyes but I?'


'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame

      Go where it doth deserve.'

'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'

      'My dear, then I will serve.'

'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.'

      So I did sit and eat.

            Aidan Mayoss CR