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Jesus said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me, draws him” (Jn 6:45).
St. Thomas explains: “The Father draws men to the Son in many ways, using the different ways in which we are drawn without compulsion. One person may draw another by persuading him with a reason. The Father draws us to the Son by showing us that He is the Son…
There is an interior impulse that incites and moves us to believe. And so the Father draws many to the Son by the impulse of a divine action, moving a person’s heart from within to believe: ‘It is God who is working in us, both to will and to accomplish’ (Phil 2:13); ‘I will draw them … with bands of love’ (Hos 11:4)” (935).
“The Father draws us to Christ as man insofar as He gives us His own power so that we may believe in Christ: ‘You are all saved by grace, through faith; and this is not due to yourself, for it is a gift of God’ (Eph 2:8). Insofar as He is Christ, He is the Word of God and manifests the Father. It is in this way that the Son draws us to the Father. But the Father draws us to the Son insofar as He manifests the Son” (936).
“For just as a heavy object by its nature cannot rise up, but has to be lifted by someone else, so the human heart, which tends of itself to lower things, cannot rise to what is above unless it is drawn or lifted. And if it does not rise up, this is not due to the failure of the one lifting it, who, so far as lies in Him, fails no one; rather, it is due to an obstacle in the one who is not drawn or lifted up”
“God in so far as it depends on Him, extends His hand to everyone, to draw every one; and what is more, He not only draws those who receive Him by the hand, but also converts those who are turned away from Him, according to ‘Covert us, O Lord, to Yourself, and we shall be converted’ (Lam 5:21)… Therefore, since God is ready to give grace to all, and draw them to Himself, it is not due to Him if someone does not accept; rather it is due to the person who does not accept” (937).
This drawing by the Father is most effective, because ‘Every one who has heard the Father and has learned, comes to Me.’ Here, He mentions two things: first, what relates to a gift of God, when He says, ‘has heard,’ that is, through God, who reveals; the other relates to a free judgment, when He says, ‘and has learned,’ that is, by an assent. These two are necessary for every teaching of faith. ‘Every one who has heard the Father, [teaching and making know], and has learned, [by giving assent], comes to Me” (945).
“He comes in three ways: though a knowledge of the truth; through the affection of love; and through imitative action. And in each way it is necessary that one hear and learn. The one who comes through a knowledge of the truth must hear, when God speaks within: ‘I will hear what the Lord God will speak within me’ (Ps 84:9); and he must learn, through affection… he must hear the word of the Father and grasp it, in order to learn and be moved in his affections. For that person learns the word who grasps it according to the meaning of the speaker. But the Word of the Father breathes forth love. Therefore, the one, who grasps it with eager love, learns… One comes to Christ through imitative action, according to: ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you’ (Mt 11:28)” (946).
“No one can know the Father except through Christ, who makes Him known; and no one can come to the Son unless He has heard from the Father, who makes the Son known” (948).
St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, Part I, 934-948, trans. James A. Weisheipl, O.P. and Fabian Larcher, O.P. (Albany, NY: Magi Books, Inc., 1980), 369-377.