Jesus issues Nicodemus, and us, a challenge in todays’ Gospel when he says, “unless one is born anew (or from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
For those who have a desire for His kingdom and an eternal inheritance, a variation of Nicodemus’ response should come quite naturally:
“What does it mean to be born anew, and what must I do?”
Let’s first read through the Gospel in full:
Born of the Spirit
What does it mean to be “born of the Spirit”? Each of us can relate to who we’re physically born from – our parents. We can see similarities between them and us and there is a bond that exists between us. Some are weak, some are strong… some are loving, some are wounded. Whether we consider it a good or not so good thing, we identify with that birthright.
To be born anew – and of the Spirit – implies the same thinking, the same identification… and it’s not just the Holy Spirit. Remembering that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one – being born of the Spirit is the same as being born of the Father and the Son. As we know a lot more about the Son, and can relate to Him through His teaching and way of life, we have a clear model to identify with.
Do we see similarities between Jesus and ourselves? Are we imitating him on a regular basis, taking on board his teaching? Are we conscious and intentional about the bond between Him and us? Do we identify with Him?
This is in stark contrast to being “born of the flesh”, or “of the world”. Think of the world as what is popular, what we see applauded in the media. This flesh-based birthright implies that we seek to imitate the world and identify with what it is conveying (with all of the depression, anxiety and fear that comes with it). We’re quick to jump on any new trends and we’re often afraid of missing out. Sadly, this describes much of those we see around us – including ourselves at times.
This is not what we were created for.
Thankfully, this isn’t an all or nothing thing – flesh or spirit – it’s a progression…but to see the kingdom of God, we must be progressing towards the Spirit and away from the world. Starting with our desire & intention, and showing up in our actions & behaviours.
The will of the wind
We’ve all heard the comparison between God (or the Holy Spirit) and the wind – it’s even used throughout Scripture when describing the movement of God. Jesus says, “The wind blows where it wills.” Put another way, “God moves where He wills”. He is taking action, according to His own divine plan.
Those who are progressing in their being born of the Spirit “hear the sound of it“. In our progression, are finding time to listen and hear Gods’ movements and His will? This reinforces the necessity for creating a sacred time and sacred space for prayer, for that listening and hearing.
“You do not know whence it comes or whither it goes“. It’s not our place to know Gods’ overall plan (what led to his instruction or message to us in prayer) or where it’s going (the reason for the instruction and what comes after). This is where TRUST comes in.
We must trust that whatever He reveals to us is enough for us to know – and it’s now on us to act upon that with courage and trust. Those revelations can come during our time of prayer, through something we’ve read, through a comment from a friend, or through limitless other ways. The key is that we remain open and receptive – looking for Gods’ fingerprints throughout our day.
So it is with every one who is born of the Spirit
There’s something very beautiful in all of this. God wants to come to us and move us to play a role in His divine plan. Think about that – He wants YOU to get involved in a very personal and individual way. Jesus’ presence is with each of us, waiting for us to listen, and wanting to instruct us in the small (and sometimes big) actions he needs from us.
The way of those born of the Spirit don’t ask why for the same reason a servant doesn’t ask the Master why a certain chore or task is requested. We’re called to serve, not to question.
Those born of the Spirit also don’t worry about how that service should be done – for we know that Jesus remains with us to carry out that work. We replace the need to know how with trust that it will work out – while remaining steadfast in our desire to do what we’ve been asked.
WE not me
St. Faustina had a beautiful way of always using “we” instead of “me”. She was blessed with intimate knowledge that Jesus was always with her and she and Him always acted in the form of “we”. The same is true for us, even if we haven’t been blessed with that same connection that she had.
Think of all the times when we dwell on “what I need, what I want, how I feel”. Replace the I with “He” and your focus immediately shifts to where your service could help (what He needs, what He wants, how He feels…) – then go forward with Him as a “WE”.
Today, and each day, bring three truths with you and you’ll be well on your way to being born of the Spirit:
- God wants your involvement in His work, and He sends you clues in unexpected places. Look for them.
- God wants His presence to be felt by you at all times. He is with you, in you and wants to work through you.
- Keep your focus on serving Him by acting on these clues – doing so with Him, as a “WE”.