Pope Francis Being born again, Let the Holy Spirit enter us 20.04.20
This man, Nicodemus, is a leader of the Jews, an authoritative man; he felt the need to go to Jesus. He went at night, because he had to do some balancing, because those who went to talk to Jesus were not looked on well. He was a just Pharisee, because not all Pharisees were bad: no, no; there were also good Pharisees. This was a just Pharisee. He felt restless, because he is a man who had read the prophets and knew that what Jesus did had been announced by the prophets. He felt that restlessness and went to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God": it is a confession, up to a point. "For no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." And he stops. He stops in front of the "therefore." If I say this ... Therefore! ... And Jesus answered. He answered mysteriously, in a way that Nicodemus did not expect. He answered with that symbol of being born: if one is not born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. And Nicodemus feels confused, he doesn't understand and takes Jesus' answer literally: but how can a person be born again if one is an adult? Born from above, born from the Spirit. It's the step forward that Nicodemus has to make and he doesn't know how to do it. Because the Spirit is unpredictable. The definition of the Spirit that Jesus gives here is interesting: "The wind blows where it wants 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", that is, free. A person who allows himself to be carried from one side to the other by the Holy Spirit: this is the freedom of the Spirit. And whoever does this is a docile person and here we are speaking about docility to the Spirit.
To be a Christian is not only to carry out the Commandments: they must be done, this is true; but if you stop there, you're not a good Christian. To be a good Christian is to let the Spirit enter into you and take you, take you where he wants. In our Christian life so often we stop like Nicodemus, before the "therefore", we do not know what step to take, we do not know how to do it or we do not have the confidence in God to take this step and let the Spirit enter. To be born again is to let the Spirit enter us and for the Spirit to lead us and not myself, and that is where the freedom is. With this freedom of the Spirit you will never know where you will end up.
The apostles, who were in the Cenacle, when the Spirit came they went out to preach with that courage, that boldness... they didn't know this was going to happen; and they did it, because the Spirit was guiding them. The Christian must never stop only at the fulfilment of the Commandments: it must be done, but go further, towards this new birth that is the birth in the Spirit, which gives you the freedom of the Spirit.
This is what happened to this Christian community in the first Reading, after John and Peter returned from that interrogation they had with the high priests. They went to their brothers in this community and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And the community, when they heard this, all together, they got a little scared. And what did they do? Pray. They did not stop at precautionary measures, "no, now let's do this, let's be a little quieter ...": no. They prayed that the Spirit should tell them what they should do. They raised their voices to God by saying, "Lord!" and prayed. This beautiful prayer in a dark moment, in a time when they had to make decisions and didn't know what to do. They want to be born of the Spirit, they open their hearts to the Spirit: let him tell us ... And they ask, "Lord, Herod and Pontius Pilate made an alliance with the Gentiles and peoples of Israel against your holy servant Jesus," they tell the story and say, "Lord, do something!" "And now, Lord, turn your gaze to their threats", that group of priests, "and allow your servants to proclaim your word with all boldness" – they ask for boldness, courage, not to be afraid – "stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of Jesus." "And when they had finished their prayers, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed the word of God with boldness." A second Pentecost happened here.
Faced with difficulties, in front of a closed door, they did not know how to move forward, they go to the Lord, open their hearts and the Holy Spirit comes and gives them what they need and they go out to preach, courageously, and move forward. This is born of the Spirit, this is not to stop at the "therefore", at the "therefore" of the things I have always done, at the "therefore" that comes after the Commandments, at the "therefore" after religious habits: no! This is being born again. And how does one prepare to be born again? With prayer. Prayer is the thing that opens the door to the Spirit and gives us this freedom, this boldness, this courage of the Holy Spirit. And you'll never know where it's going to take you. But it's the Spirit.
May the Lord help us to always be open to the Spirit, for He will carry us forward in our lives of service to the Lord.
Let us pray today for men and women who have a vocation in political life: politics is a high form of charity. For all political parties in different countries, that at this time of the pandemic they seek together the good of the country and not the good of their own party.