Another awesome first reading today from Acts 4. After Peter and John were released, the disciples all got together and prayed, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness.” The Scripture says “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Yes! Let’s pray that we can do the same today, as the culture tries to shut us up.
Today’s Gospel reading is from John 3, the famous exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus where Nicodemus asks, “How can a man once grown old be born again?” The Greek word that is used here is “anothen.” It has two meanings, “from above” and “again.” Jesus speaks of being born from above, but Nicodemus hears “again.” And so Jesus clarifies for him. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” Jesus here is clearly referring to baptism.
Have you ever been asked if you are “born again?” As Catholics, we believe that this born again experience IS baptism. So in reality, every baptized Catholic is a born again Christian! But this is just the beginning of our salvation journey. At our baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Evangelical Christians believe this “born again” experience is when you “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.” In that context, then Catholics believe that you must be born again each and every day! So if you’re ever asked if you’ve been born again, perhaps a good response might be, “I’ve been born again in the waters of baptism and as St. Paul said in Philippians 2:12, I’m ‘working out my salvation with fear and trembling.’ ”
Father, we thank you for the gift of our baptism, where we are born from above through water and Spirit. Give us the grace to renew our baptismal vows every day. Amen.