Born Again

Monday of the Second Week of Easter
April 17, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings open with the disciples praying for courage in the midst of surrounding threats – and the Holy Spirit hears them!

Peter and John had been imprisoned by the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees. And the memory of Jesus horrendous trials is still fresh in the community’s mind. Fear nips at their spirits and so they prayed.

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord …
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

Acts 4:23-23;29-30

The disciples were asking people to change. And many people don’t like change, especially change that asks them to shake off old, comfortable ways. Even life-giving change is often rejected for the sake of unexamined custom and unwarranted fear.

Just look at Nicodemus in our Gospel. Here is a good man whose heart aches to open to Jesus’s call. But he just can’t imagine himself beyond the old definitions he has allowed to define him for decades.

“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?’

John 3:2-4

Our Easter-life in Christ calls us to be reborn too. It calls us to be our best selves in light of the Gospel. Often this means breaking through a worldly interpretation of love, justice or wealth to witness the Gospel definition of these things our lives:

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.’

John 3: -7

What Jesus says to Nicodemus may be hard for us to understand too, but Christ made it very clear and simple in the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe Nicodemus had been there on that earlier day, beginning to wonder about this amazing man. Maybe he will remember and find the courage to respond now that he has actually sought Jesus out for advice.

We will let those crystal clear Beatitudes be our poetry for today, maybe inspiring us to have a Nicodemus style sit-down with Jesus ourselves.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:1-12

Music: Born of God – Steven Kapp Perry

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