April 16, 2012 - Monday of the Second Week of Easter

Today's Readings

Nicodemus comes to Jesus secretly, at night. He tells Jesus that he knows that he comes from God. He actually says a little more. He says, “We know that you have come from God.” Who are “we”? From his words, it seems that Nicodemus either came with a contingent or at least representing a contingent. This was an opportunity for Jesus. Nicodemus comes offering the friendship of some of those in high places. He is telling Jesus that he has supporters in high places.

Jesus does not seem to take full advantage of the offer. Instead of discussing possible political strategies with Nicodemus, he answers with an obscure teaching about being born again. Nicodemus is open to the teaching and tries to understand what Jesus means. Clearly Jesus is not saying that we need to be born again as we were born the first time. Being physically born is a process that a person can only go through once. Jesus clarifies that he is not talking about a physical birth. He means that a person must be born again by water and the Holy Spirit.

What exactly does that mean? When a person is born, their life changes entirely. The first 9 months of life are a certain experience, then birth changes everything. The life of a newborn is very different than the life of child about to be born. If we could interview a child about to be born and asked them whether they would like to give up the warmth and comfort of the womb for a harsh, cold world, they might be reluctant, but no adult would want to go back to the way life was before they were born.

So too it is for us and being born again. When we were born physically, our physically life changed. When we are born again of water and the Holy Spirit, our spiritual life changes. There is a difference, however. We had no choice about being born physically, and once we were born, we grew up as a matter of course. It just happened. We may or may not have chosen to be baptized, but growing up spiritually is our choice. If we choose to be spiritual infants, still in diapers, we will remain immature. If we want to become mature Christians, saints, we need to go beyond being born again: we need to grow up again.