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Monday, April 20, 2020

Reflection 2020-04-20 Monday 2nd Week of Easter

Acts 4:23-31; Psalm 2; John 3:1-8
Now that the Octave of Easter is done, the Resurrection story ends and the Gospel readings will talk about having new life, because the Resurrection is new life! The Gospel describes Nicodemus as a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews. He comes at night because he does not want people to know about this meeting. Nicodemus admits Jesus is a teacher who comes from God because the signs prove this. Jesus answers him: Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God, without being born from above. Jesus tells Nicodemus that rebirth is necessary to see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus thought Jesus means being born again is sufficient, which is why Nicodemus asks how a man can be born when he is old. To which Jesus responds: Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Jesus was not speaking of being born again, but of being born of water AND Spirit.
Rebirth of the water and Spirit is the key to entering the kingdom of God. This is why Catholics believe we enter the kingdom of God through Baptism where God gives his Spirit to make us his child. This is just the beginning because we are expected to live as children of God. We cannot assume we are saved just because we are baptized because that salvation given to us at Baptism can be lost when we reject God in our sins. Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God as composed of good fish and bad fish where the bad fish will be thrown away. He speaks of the kingdom of God as having weeds growing in a field which will later be sown and thrown into the fire. The kingdom of God is made up of good and wicked people, but time will come when the good will be separated from the wicked. It is therefore, our responsibility to ensure we live in the life we received at Baptism.
How do we live this life? Jesus says the wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. This life in the Spirit is to be docile to the Spirit, to move where he goes. It is to empty ourselves so the Spirit can lead us where he wills. We see this in the First Reading where Peter and John went back to the community and they prayed together. The prayer ended with: And now Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
This is the life in the Spirit. It is to rely on God, in the face of danger and threats. It is to speak without fear and let God heal and perform mighty works through the name of Jesus. Our duty as Christians is to speak the word of God with all boldness. We speak the Word in Truth even if it is not popular, even if it puts our life in danger. It is only when we speak the Word in Truth, that God can heal and perform signs and wonders THROUGH the name of Jesus. When Christians are afraid to speak the Truth, when they hide behind what is comfortable, when we preach a Gospel of mercy without repentance, a Gospel of prosperity, a Gospel of salvation through good works ALONE, or a Gospel of salvation through faith ALONE, we preach error and we are not preaching the Word with boldness.
How do we apply this today? This does not mean we throw caution aside and disregard common sense of exposing ourselves to the virus, saying God will heal us. This will be extremely irresponsible and unreasonable. First, the Apostles prayed for boldness to speak the word of God. They did not pray for protection from persecution or sickness. We need to use common sense when we preach the word.
Second is we need to allow the Spirit to lead us and the Spirit will not lead us to expose ourselves to sickness if we can prevent it.
We can still preach the Word without exposing ourselves to the virus, through modern technology. So we preach the word boldly, proclaiming salvation in Christ alone.
What is salvation, but life with God in Christ. It is to be born of water and the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to live a holy life that is pleasing to God, because we cannot enter heaven if we do not live holy lives. The first thing to do is to repent of our sins and ask God to take over our lives.
Lord Jesus, come into my life. I reject my sin and I dare come to you, because you call us to be born from above. I accept this life you have planned for me and I ask you to send your Spirit to me, so I can truly live a holy life, a life that is open to your Spirit. Take me Lord. Do to me as you will. Make me holy.

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