Tuesday, April 13, 2010

God works great things in those reborn in his Spirit (Monday, 2nd Week of Easter, John 3:1-8)

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus,
a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
for no one can do these signs that you are doing
unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above,
he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him,
“How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb
and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from

or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

* * * * * * *

John Paul II lost his mother before he was nine, his beloved older brother before he was nineteen. He and his father were so poor that they lived in a basement and scrimped in order for him to pursue his studies. And his father died alone while he was in school. At 22, he was a complete orphan. When the Nazi’s invaded his country, he saw his friends, both Jewish and Christian, disappear and die one by one. He had to study in an underground seminary for fear being killed himself. As bishop he was hounded by communists, as pope he was shot by a Muslim, and in old age, he became so frail he could barely speak.

When you think of the life of the late John Paul II, you can’t help but wonder how a man who went through so much suffering could have accomplished what he did. The more you hear about him, the more you realize the titanic strength of character this man possessed. How was a man like John Paul II possible? Perhaps we can find some answer in today’s gospel.

Human nature is weak and often given to frustration and despair. Those, however, who are born in the Spirit, live and act always in the Spirit. God works in and through them. That was what Jesus was telling Nichodemus. By ourselves—who are born of the flesh—we can accomplish precious little. Reborn in God’s Spirit as his sons and daughters, however, we can be the most powerful instruments of God in bringing his message to the world.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)