It is such a beautiful day in Hazelwood, MO. God, thanks for the great weather and even greater friends.
Today’s reflection is about being “born again:” the Catholic Way; and how to make a great glass of chocolate milk!
Quote or Joke of the Day:
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, not touched . . . but are felt in the heart. — Helen Keller
Now 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, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person 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, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 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.” (NAB Jn 3:1-8)
Who was Nicodemus? He must have been a man of means and influence. By him asking, “How can a man be born when he is old?” he was advanced in years. Nicodemus being “A ruler of the Jews,” most likely was a member of the Jewish council: the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of temple leaders. I wonder if he had a role in the mock trial of Jesus, and of in sighting the crowds to demand Jesus’ death?
Jesus instructs Nicodemus on the necessity of a new birth from “above.” Jesus wants to make a point that “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Two places in the gospel reading have, what I call, “YO, Listen to ME Now!” moments. Each of these moments starts with the declaration, AMEN, AMEN.”
“Water” and “Spirit” are the essential elements of gaining access and residence in the kingdom of God. To obtain the grace of eternal life can only be gained through the graces of the Holy Spirit, that we obtain through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
Baptism is fairly easy to understand; but what about this “Holy Spirit” thing? If we obtain the Holy Spirit in baptism, so what is the purpose of “Confirmation,” when we again receive the Holy Spirit (that we already have)? Let me compare the Holy Spirit of baptism and confirmation, to making a glass of chocolate milk.
Picture that you are a beautifully clean, tall white glass of cold milk. The Holy Spirit is the delectable liquid chocolate. At baptism, the chocolate is squirted into the glass of milk: YOU. The Chocolate (Holy Spirit) is physically present in the glass, but is still separate from the milk; just sitting there at the bottom. You have the Holy Spirit (chocolate) in you since baptism; and the Sacrament of Confirmation is the spoon that stirs up the Holy Spirit (chocolate), making a new creation: pure, delicious, sweet, chocolate milk. Yum!
Jesus, in saying the word “Born,” refers to the Greek adverb “anothen” which means both “from above” and “again.” In talking to Nicodemus, Jesus meant “from above,” but Nicodemus misunderstands the word as meaning “again.” That is why Nicodemus seemed confused as to how to be vaginally delivered again: a physical impossibility. This misunderstanding serves as a springboard for the further instructions, and analogy, from Jesus.
I love the reference Jesus makes to the word “Wind,” which refers to the Greek word “pneuma,” and the Hebrew word “ruah,” meaning both “wind” and “spirit.” I feel so close to God when I sit at a picturesque landscape, feeling the warm gentile wind softly brushing against my skin and clothes. Wind, to me can be a breath of life in a frequently hectic world. Jesus’ use of the analogy of wind is not by accident. In yesterday’s blog, I wrote about why “breathing on” is an important sign of the passing on of the special graces of the Holy Spirit. Wind is a “breathing on” for the earth, giving all creation the special grace of being a loved by God.
“Jesus, you are my breath of life. Allow every breath I take be a prayer of gratitude for you, and a prayer of thanksgiving for you have given me. Allow every breath I take be a prayer of redemption for the souls of purgatory. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Julius
Julius whose feast day is April 12th. Julius was the son of a Roman named Rusticus. He was elected Pope to succeed Pope St. Mark on February 6, 337. Julius was soon involved in the Arian controversy when Eusebius of Nicomedia opposed the return of Athanasius to the See of Alexandria in 338. Eusebius and his followers elected George, whereupon the Arians elected Pistus. Julius convened a synod in Rome in 340 or 341 that neither group attended, and in a letter to the Eusebian bishops, Julius declared that Athanasius was the rightful bishop of Alexandria and reinstated him. The matter was not finally settled until the Council of Sardica (Sofia), summoned by emperors Constans and Constantius in 342 or 343, declared Julius’ action correct and that any deposed bishop had the right of appeal to the Pope in Rome. Julius built several basilicas and churches in Rome and died there on April 12.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #12:
Witnessing to the good yet to come and obligated to acquire purity of heart because of the vocation they have embraced, they should set themselves free to love God and their brothers and sisters.