A God of Inclusion

– Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter –

“… anyone who comes to me I will never drive away” [John 6:37]

The Catholic Church is often in the limelight for what it is against, and who it excludes. Rarely are we noted for what we are for, and who we include. In today’s gospel we are reminded that at the heart of our tradition is inclusion. Jesus says “anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away.” Not only will all who come to Jesus not be turned away, but “all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and [Jesus] will raise them up on the last day.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t put a great list of conditions on those who come to him, he simply says ‘whoever comes to me.’ This is good news for us and good news for humanity. Christ reminds us that no matter who we are, where we’re from, what we’ve done and what our situation might be, if we come to Christ we are welcomed!

At this point some might be thinking, but what about our sacramental theology? Doesn’t one have to be in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist? What about those in ‘irregular’ situations? And here’s the point. When a relationship between two people begins, it doesn’t begin with total vulnerability, openness and trust. These grow through relationship – the more we know someone, the more we trust them, the more we are open to them, and the more willing we are to be vulnerable with them. Whilst vulnerability, openness and trust are essential in a meaningful relationship, the most important aspect is love. We are willing to give ourselves up for those we love. Love changes us, and it drives out fear.

The same is true with our relationship to Jesus. As we come to him, he will not turn us away… but he will lead us on a journey toward wholeness. We come to Jesus as we are, and as we grow in our vulnerability, openness and trust in Jesus, he transforms us by his love. He helps us become fully ourselves and prepares us so that we can live in communion with him. No matter who we are, where we’re from, or what we’ve done, Jesus welcomes us and will not turn us away, but he will also lead us forward, transform us, and change us so that we can become fully ourselves – which is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ.

by Dcn Peter Pellicaan

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