Jesus said we must be born from above.

Monday, 4/13/15

Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.” That might sound fine to us, but actually it is a case of damning with faint praise. Jesus had demonstrated himself to be the promised Messiah. To acknowledge him merely as “a-teacher-come-from-God” falls insultingly short of the evidence.

(John’ Gospel is a subtle document. It says Nicodemus came by night, while the  Samaritan Woman came at noon. That was St. John’s way of saying It was night in the soul of Nicodemus, bright noon in the woman’s soul.)

Our English translation of this story excusably misses out on what John conveyed with a pivotal Greek word. Our Catholic translation of 3:3 says, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Some Fundamentalists have Jesus there saying, “No lone can enter the kingdom of God without being born again.”     

The confusion comes from John using the Greek word anothen, which surprisingly can mean either from above or again. Many Christians have taken anothen to mean “again,” going on to calling themselves “born again Christians.” However, since Jesus compared the bestowing of the Spirit to the
wind coming from we-don’t-know-where, he was saying that the Spirit comes from above.

The Fundamentalist are not the only ones getting anothen wrong. Nicodemus too mistook Our Lord to be using anothen in the sense of again. He asked, “How can a person once grown be born again?

Jesus corrected Nicodemus by saying he had to be born of the Spirit. Like you need the heavenly WiFi to be tuned in. My own take on anothen is that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless by praying we allow our lives to be managed by impulses that come to us from God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Father, Thanks for the analogy between Nicodemus and The Samaritan Woman. I never looked it that way. Thanks again and God bless. TCL

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