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Lenten Journey Day 37 – Born Again
One evening in the life of our Lord Jesus, he was approached by a man named Nicodemus who seemingly complimented him. According to the Gospel of St. John, Nicodemus said to Jesus, “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus responds to Nicodemus in a rather awkward and unusual manner. Ordinarily you would expect the answer to such a compliment to be a kind thanks, or at the very least an acknowledgement. Instead Jesus turns to Nicodemus and gives him a qualifier. He said, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
These words, “being born again” can be translated in few ways. Literally, they mean to be “born from above” but it also implies renewal. Jesus’ words mean to be born from above, to be born anew, to be born again. No matter how we twist it, no matter how we say it Jesus demands from us a new beginning for our lives.
Throughout this Lenten season we’ve been challenges in many ways to discover truths about ourselves, so that at the end of the 40 days, we are truly born again, that is, we are born anew, fresh, from above.
Being born again is not limited to one time event in our lives. Nicodemus turns to Jesus and says, “How could this be? How could this possibly be when a man is old, can he enter for a second time into his mother’s womb to be born again?”
Jesus says, “Unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus is referring to baptism by saying to be born from the water and the spirit. This new birth is from our new mother, the Holy Church. The holy font (baptism basin) is the womb of that mother – the womb of the Church.
Beyond the sacraments of Baptism, throughout our life – that time that God gives us – we are granted many opportunities when we experience a re-awakening of our senses and our our being. Certainly this Lenten Journey is one such experience where we have put the ego on a shelf, where we have put many of our desires on hold so that we can understand ourselves and the spiritual being within, experiencing a new birth. The Christian has an opportunity to be born again and again and again. Baptism is the entry point to a new life in Christ, but it does not end when the water has dried off. In fact, it has only just begun. The Christian is challenged to find that newness. Being born again is really a revelation from above. It is an opportunity to be born anew, to a life that is full of love and understanding, not only of ourselves but for the people around us for our environment, certainly for the world.
The Christian is invited to a new life in Christ. That Christian journey is a long and beautiful one, but many times as life hits us with difficulties deviated from the path. During Lent we stand back and notice our deviation and have an opportunity to get back on that road. Lent is about recovering the lost ground and in concluding this Lenten Journey, on its final days of this walk, we understand that the born again experience is really something we need to welcome in our lives.
The challenges of life dull our senses to the beauty that is all around us. We need to welcome the experience as an essential part of the re-creative process of life. The word recreation, to “re- create” ourselves begins with communion with God. The Holy Eucharist is the new born again experience for every Christian. Because in the Holy Eucharist we not only walk with Christ, we talk with Christ, we taste Christ, we enjoy Christ. That is, we are born again into a new life that is born from above, that is born anew and we see that no matter how we express it there is a new generation and a new birth for each of us.
Here is an opportunity at the end of this Lenten period for us to walk out into a new life with Christ. It is a life that has been ordained by God, one that has been sanctioned by God, one that has been demanded by God! We walk with Christ. Plainly, we walk in the path of love, harmony and peace.
Let us pray:
Guide us O Lord our God and teach us to walk in your paths of righteousness. Keep our lives in peace and our ways pleasing in your sight. Guide us, your servants, on our earthly and heavenly course. May we say on the path of purity as directed by Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the hope of our salvation, with whom you are blessed O Father Almighty, together with the life-giving and liberating Holy Spirit now and forever, to the end of the ages. Amen.