Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Easter
Born of the Spirit
An unknown author said that the Holy Spirit is: Water, Oil, Wind, Fire, Dove and Seal.
Well anyway, today’s gospel Jesus says: “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,” (v. 8). The word ‘wind’ in the gospel today has a name: the Spirit. The Greek word pneuma as well as the Hebrew word ruah means both ‘wind’, ‘breath’ and ‘spirit.’ Jesus says these words because Nicodimus has the difficulty to understand the message of Jesus when He says: “You must be born from above,” (v. 7). Jesus is referring here to the transforming and renewing power of the Spirit. The Greek adverb anothen means both ‘from above’ and ‘again.’ Jesus means ‘from above’ but Nicodemus misunderstands it as ‘again.’ It is because for him, it is impossible for a man to ‘go back into the womb again and be born,’ (v. 4) and Jesus explains that it is a spiritual new birth. “That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.” This misunderstanding serves as a springboard of Jesus for further instruction.
There have been a lot of discussions and debates about the phrase “to be born again.” Even some called themselves as ‘born again Christians’ referring to ones who changed their lifestyles and accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. But it is said that Jesus Himself does not use the phrase “born again,” it is Nicodemus. Somebody said that what Jesus emphasizes is the need to be born “from above” and “through water and the Spirit.” We are born into a new life through the life-giving waters of the Sacrament of Baptism. The new life is the life of God in us. It is a life that we possess by the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls. Well, what he said is true and I do believe.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus too said something about the Holy Spirit. He said: “The deity of the Holy Spirit ought to be clearly recognized in Scripture. Look at these facts: Christ is born; the Spirit is His forerunner. Christ is baptized; the Spirit bears witness. Christ is tempted; the Spirit leads Him up. Christ ascends; the Spirit takes His place. What great things are there in the character of God which are not found in the Spirit? What titles which belong to God are not also applied to Him? He is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the mind of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of adoption, of truth, of liberty; the Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, of godliness, of the fear of God. This only begins to show how unlimited He is.”
The effects of the Holy Spirit should also be visible in each one of us who is baptized with the life-changing Spirit. One way of doing it is to bear witness with our good examples, not only to those who believe in Jesus but especially to the unbelievers. Giving good example, according to Mr. Jesus Estanislao, in one of his columns in Bulletin Today, “is bearing witness to the presence of God in our life. We try to do as much good as possible because we are trying to be as close to God as possible. Doing good for others and for our country as a whole is practicing what is so often preached to us. It is by doing as much good as possible that we can also preach to others; but it is best to do our preaching mainly, if not exclusively, by the example we give. The example of a selfless life, lived out with generosity in serving the country without a trace of selfishness, is the patriotic thing to do.”
So as baptized Christians and reborn in the Holy Spirit let us always remember that there is no better teacher than good example.