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Are You and I a Hard Case for God? You Betcha!

July 29, 2011

In the Gospels Jesus says: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44) Now the Greek word here is ἑλκύσῃ (elkuse) which means “to draw or to drag” and the word always implies some sort of resistance. In a way, Jesus more than implies that all of us who do believe have offered some resistance, and the Father had to drag us along!

“Oh, not me!” you might say, “I have been a believer since my youth!” Well, get used to it, all of us are a “hard case” to God. Truth is, our flesh (our carnal “sin-nature”) does not want to believe, does not want to be told what to do. God, working through others has to drag us along. It is true, some of us are harder cases than others but all of us are still in the category “hard case.” We can be very stubborn, willful, and stiff necked. We can also rationalize very easily and convince ourselves that sin is no big deal and even not sin at all.

Of us, God says this through the Prophet Isaiah: For I know how stubborn you are; the sinews of your neck are iron, your forehead is bronze (Is 48:4). In other words, God says to us, I know that you are stubborn. Like iron, you are hardheaded. Like bronze, and nothing gets through your thick skull. Are we a hard case? You betcha….

Yes, indeed we have to be dragged along by God and our carnal nature resists. So, if you’ve come to Jesus, thank the Father, he had to drag you and me here! And, like wandering sheep, he often has to go out and drag us back. “No one can come to me,” says Jesus, “Unless the Father draws (drags!) him.” Again, if you have faith, thank the Father! You might say we have a “drug problem.” The problem is that we have to be “drug along” at every stage of our lives.

There is an old Internet standard you may have read elsewhere that reflects this need to be “drug”

I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather. I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher. Or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me. I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profane four letter word. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and to do my chores. I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline or chop some fire wood. And if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the wood shed. Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin, and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America might be a better place today.

Here’s a gospel song by Kurt Carr that describes how God has to hold us close not only because we are stubborn but also because, sometimes we despair:

Filed in: Faith

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  1. ray says:

    very nice Monsignor.

  2. Nguyen Thuong MInh says:

    Epistle 212
    My some thoughts about “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, the title of the homily, “Are you and I a hard case for God? You betcha!”, told the whole content of the homily.
    Content of homily said that “You and I are a hard case for God. You betcha!”.
    Secondly, now permit me to explain some matters to relate to the homily hereafter:
    I am a Vietnamese man. My only foreign language is English. I learned English from 5th grade to this day. My teachers were Vietnamese people.
    I learned English from textbooks called “English for Today” from 1st book to 6th book, and English business textbooks such as “We are business” and “You are business”.
    All these textbooks don’t help me to write English well, except they helped me to pass an examination.
    On 2000, when I went to Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, I was offered a Holy Bible by Catholic Priest. It is called NIV Study Bible. I felt that I can write English well according to Lord Jesus’ teachings.
    But, until early 2011, when I read homilies of Msgr. Charles Pope, I begin to write English comments and send them to Father.
    In other words, I am learning English from Msgr. Charles Pope. Father is a good English master of mine.
    Some my experiences in learning and writing English are:
    Textbooks only help me to write simple sentences exactly.
    Holy Bible as well as homilies and BBC’s articles have helped me to improve my writings.
    In my writings, I always use English dictionaries. In the case, English dictionaries don’t have it, I ought to define it.
    For example, what is “betcha”?
    According to MacMillan English Dictionary – American, “betcha” is “yes”. But in the case, English dictionaries don’t have it. I define it as “you bet”. “You bet” is that you can understand something certainly. Thus, “you bet” means “of course”.
    Other example, I wrote “You and me”. But Father wrote “You and I”. Father is right, and I am wrong. But if I write “I and you” is right because here “you” is both subject and object.
    I listen and speak English very bad. I only listen and speak English as common sentences in textbooks. I think that it is normal thing. Because I am a Vietnamese man of South Vietnam, but I cannot hear well voices of a Vietnamese man of North Vietnam or Central Vietnam. Of course, it is very hard for me to hear an American to speak English.
    My conclusion is that “write” is optimum way so that people communicate each other./.

  3. Mary M. says:

    I am a “revert” – I thank God He drug me back. God’s grace is such a wonderful gift. If only more of us would respond.

  4. Marco de Puna says:

    It’s been one of those bad weeks and this really hit home. Thank you very much!

  5. esiul says:

    O yes, Msgr. He drug me back all right, actually His mother did.
    If only parents would realize how much “drugging” they can do to rear their children in the faith.

  6. susanna says:

    So true. I thank God every day.

    (RE the old internet standard: Being drug to the woodshed surely does affect your behavior forever, but I can’t agree with it. Kids today might be more self-centered and spoiled, but family members say “love you” more often I’ve noticed. We never said it. I dunno.)

    Good job Nguyen. Can you listen to English spoken on the internet? Try EWTN.

  7. richT says:

    Nguyen-it is good to see someone speaking in tongues! it is really edifying to see one try so hard because of his love for the Gospel. We all struggle to properly communicate what we really wish to say, (and then find out we didn’t have it right anyway!) a pat on your proverbial back…I actually have read some of your other posts and look foward to your writings.

  8. JuliB says:

    I checked the Douay Rheims and they had this note:

    [44] “Draw him”… Not by compulsion, nor by laying the free will under any necessity, but by the strong and sweet motions of his heavenly grace.

    Interesting perspective….