Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

Lectionary: 268

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘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.”
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
‘How can this happen?”

We have passed through the penitential season of Lent; we have experienced the sadness of Holy Week and the ecstasy of Easter Octave. We can now settle into the Easter Season and reflect on what has happened.

In the ancient church, at this point, new members would be told why they were submerged in water, anointed with oil, and given – with solemn ceremony – a small piece of bread to eat and a small sip of wine to drink. After several years of indoctrination and prayer they could be trusted with our understanding of these secret sacraments. 

Hopefully, they could look back on the past months and years and verify what was explained to them, saying, “Yes, I have been born again!” At that point they might have been told, “You were born from above!”

The lectionary readings of this season – from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Saint John – are chosen with the newly baptized in mind. The teaching after Baptism is called mystagogia, meaning mystical lessons. Now that they have committed their lives to Jesus and experienced his saving mercy, they can be instructed in the doctrines of our faith, beginning with Baptism.  
When Nicodemus heard Jesus speak of being "born from above" (in Aramaic) he wondered what on earth it meant. He asked, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”

Because our Christian religion is based upon the rock solid foundation of Jewish religion Jesus could ask with some astonishment, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?” But as a Pharisee of his time – and like many Christians today – Nicodemus could not fathom God’s doing something unexpected or new, least of all to him!

The new and unexpected remains a challenge for us today. We like our adventures predicable and safe, like rides on a roller coaster, with a few thrills and chills but nothing remotely life changing. The Lord never promised us such a life, nor do we find such boring lives among the saints or in the scriptures. 

If anything the word might be, "Expect the unexpected!" Recently we delivered our oldest friar to a nursing home. Our help was not enough; he needs round-the-clock care and assistance. I'm sure that he didn't expect to spend his last days in such a place when he was ordained over seventy years ago. How is he handling it? 

Well! He is a man of prayer and he's learned to adjust to any and all circumstances through his 98.5 years. I can only hope and pray that when my turn comes I'll remember the example of Father Maurus. 
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.”

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.