From the Hermitage
How has this story of Nicodemus and the challenge to be "born again" impacted you? Do you wonder if Jesus is joking? Did it strike you as totally senseless to encourage someone to be "reborn"?
Well, for a few moments, stand before a mirror -- at least sometime today, stand before a mirror and ask who is this woman, this man I am looking at? If God were behind the mirror, looking at me, what and who would he see? What would he see that is more than skinny, overweight, dark skin, light skin, white hair, black hair, red hair, no hair or just a little hair? How about the successes, the failures, the disappointments, the dedication to causes, the family produced, the life partner? It truly is important to recognize who and what all these beneath the skin realities had done to make us who and what we are. And all of this is to be reborn? Imagine what some of those present with Nicodemus would say: those who think it impossible, absurd or again, perhaps a joke?
Changing the past, changing all those realities that formed us, is as unrealistic as jumping back into Mom's womb. So, what God sees is what we are giving him whenever we encounter him. But it is the invitation that Jesus delivers in our mail every day whether email or snail mail. He invites us to become what God wants us to be. Perhaps the question might be: are you kidding me? How can I remake what has been made over the years?
The real question? How can I become what God intended if I am not that already? Well, there is an answer. Spiritual rebirth, what we are considering, is the providence not of another degree, not a change of occupation etc. It is the providence of the Holy Spirit and water! Yes, Spirit and water! The water of baptism! It is the Spirit and the waters of baptism, a new baptism, that can remake what we present as ourselves at this point in our lives. This can be quite frightening: imagine me changing at the age of almost 73. I am not 37! How can this rebirth happen? Where can it happen?
What Jesus assures you and me is this: Be not afraid! Be not afraid as Saint John Paul II said so often. Jesus is calling us to a new world so frequently. It is a new world: a world beyond our previous experience. It is a world where the Holy Spirit offers us liberation for the past for the excitement of the future. So be sure: it is frightening. It's back to the diving board!!! If we hope to achieve a true freedom in our lives, we must trust. A small word but a word that challenges us in so many way ... unless we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us where God wants us, to guide us to a personal spiritual rebirth.