A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 3:1-8
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, '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."
REFLECTION: "unless one is born from above".......
"How can a man once grown old be born again?
What is it, then, that you mean?
We all remember sitting in a classroom, or a conference, or a sermon and being introduced to something new or misunderstanding the instructions or letting one phrase overcome the intended message. We learn by seeing, hearing and paraphrasing what we just heard. So, if the professor does not reach you in his lecture, you either ask fellow classmates, or read up on what was taught or you ask the teacher if you can meet in private. In a conference you can reach out to the speaker or read the outline or go to the references given. If you don't understand what the priest was saying or if you disagree with what was said, instead of shrugging your shoulders and walking away, you set an appointment to discuss with him if you understood correctly what he was saying. But many times, we don't bother to followup on our questions.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and was an official of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish governing council.. He met with Jesus in the darkness of night. Maybe Nicodemus was afraid of being seen talking with Jesus. Maybe he was wanting to avoid the crowds that always pressed on Jesus. Or maybe he could just not wait til morning to find out more about Jesus. He had seen all the signs and miracles performed by Jesus and truly he wanted more.
Nicodemus and Jesus had a conversation. Imagine, just sitting one on one with the Lord and letting him teach you. And you can interrupt for the sake of understanding right there and then. Nicodemus began the conversation in the form of a praise, and Jesus turned it into a teaching. In this teaching is the basis of our faith and hope that God has help on the way -a way to understand His message.
It is interesting that Jesus told Nicodemus "unless one is born from above" and Nicodemus interpreted this phrase to mean "born again by reentering his mother's womb". Do we not do that when we hear something and our mind churns out a different meaning? We are convinced we heard it right, but we are totally clueless. This is where we realize that we are indeed on two different planets in our dealings with others. But Jesus teaches Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit regenerates a sinful man's heart. And through the Spirit, we too will be shaken, and can boldly speak the Word of God.
Are we ready to freely accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are we ready to allow God to take over our lives? Do we want to resemble Jesus? Are we ready to let God's grace grow in us? As PAPA missionaries can we think of a fresh new way to make Jesus better known? Can we think of ways to pray and comfort? Can we think of ways we can show the touching and transforming love of Jesus to people we meet? Can we stir up the energies we first had when he pledged to be PAPA members and to pray for priests? As PAPA members can we volunteer to join the food committee, the publications committee, the correspondence committee and the PAPA Junior committee? Are we ready to surrender all to God to help spread His word?
Pray that our priests will patiently explain the Word of God as many times it takes to understand.