Today’s reading from the Gospel of John presents us with Nicodemus “a teacher of Israel” struggling to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “You must be born from above.” Jesus attempted to clarify for Nicodemus with an analogy of the wind, yet this still did not help. Jesus goes on to explain how much a problem it is if Nicodemus and the leaders of Israel do not understand things that are concrete and plainly in view: “If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” 
Thinking at that point that Jesus would soften his message he deepened his discussion, talking of how no one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, that the same Son of Man would be lifted up as Moses lifted up a snake in the desert, and God sent his only Son so that all might have eternal life. If Nicodemus’ head wasn’t already spinning with Jesus’ born from above statement, his eyes were probably spinning counter clockwise at this point.
What Jesus conveyed to Nicodemus, his Apostles, and disciples, as well as anyone in earshot, and ongoing for generations up to us this present day is that Christianity is not Gnosticism, some secret sect of knowledge that is past on for a select, elite few. Neither is Christianity a form of dualism or Manicheism such that our body and all that is material is bad and we need to shed the physical as soon as possible to attain the fullness of our potential through the absolute embrace of the spiritual only. Nor is Christianity Pelagianism, where we just need the proper discipline, will power, and persistence to follow the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus offers us a universal invitation for all to “be born from above”, which is to be baptized in his name, to follow him into his death, to die not to our material self, but our false sense of self, to our sin, our pride, that attitude and disposition that strives to set apart, diminish, devalue, dehumanize and polarize, and to rise with him. In being born from above, we receive the offer of divinity and so, instead of rejecting our humanity, embrace the fullness of our humanity. The grace of God builds on the goodness of the creation he has made and formed into existence with his love. We accomplish this the same way Mary, the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, the disciples, and Nicodemus did. We answer the call to holiness and sanctity. We say yes to Jesus and give him all we are.
Day by day may we accept to be lead by the hand of Jesus, the first born of the new creation and participate with him by offering our hand to others. May we resist the temptation to put up barriers, to keep others at arms length. We are all, every one of us, invited to become saints through our participation in the life of Jesus and this is a gift. I agree with Pope Francis who in his latest exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”) just released yesterday, that we cannot “claim to say where God is not, because God is mysteriously present in the life of every person, in a way that he himself chooses, and we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties. Even when someone’s life appears completely wrecked, even when we see it devastated by vices or addictions, God is present there. If we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit rather than our own preconceptions, we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life.”
God is present in our life. May we embrace, breath in deep the Holy Spirit throughout the day, so to be transformed, transfigured, made new by the Love of God. May we help others experience the same.

Painting: Nicodemus talking to Jesus, William Brassey Hole
Link for article on “Rejoice and Be Glad”. I only had a chance for a quick skim and look forward to reading it and the whole exhortation of Pope Francis at some point when I get a free moment…
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/04/09/pope-francis-new-exhortation-jesus-wants-us-be-saints
Link for the Mass readings for Tuesday, April 10, 2018:
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041018.cfm

 

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