Sunday, April 19, 2009

Do Not Be Amazed

April 20, 2009

Monday of the Second Week of Easter

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 4:29-30

Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it wills, 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."
John 3:7-8


The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old?
No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

by Philip Larkin


Curiosity. Albert Einstein is said to have said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Nicodemus had a holy curiosity about this rabbi from Nazareth so he crept away under the cover of darkness to find out more about what this teacher said.

Yet, he was too literal to fully understand what Jesus meant. He was too much like Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday (“just-the-facts-ma’am” attitude) and not enough of the inquiring minds of “Mythbusters.”

Jesus tells Nicodemus that he has to open up his life to the Holy Spirit and be born differently.

On last weekend’s Cursillo, we had a lot of discussion about self mortification (denying oneself) and seeking happiness in different places that we are tempted to seek it out now. One constant expression that was nagging away was Jesus’ call to repent. He was not asking for some kind of Elmer Gantry fire-and-brimstone tent revival: “Sin, sin, sin! You're all sinners! You're all doomed to perdition!” NO!

“Repent” does not mean to spend your life in penance, fasting, vigils, rosaries, and almsgiving. Those practices all have their place in our spiritual lives. Repent means to change the direction in which you are looking for happiness. Christ will revive us from sleep walking through life to live once again reconnected to Him and His Presence.


You can meet the challenges you will face in life because Jesus and your fellow travelers are there for you. You can meet these as yet unknown challenges provided you maintain ongoing relationships with Christ and your brothers and sisters.

Being born of the spirit means, among other definitions, that we no longer seek those ‘things” we sought when we were born of the flesh. Our wants and desires to the flesh must die so we can be born again in the spirit.

Saying yes to the invitation to “Follow Jesus” is a way to achieve freedom from these former means of happiness. It is a long journey. Do not be amazed that you need to leave behind your childish ways.

Once we assent to go on this spiritual journey with Jesus, we learn that our emotional programs for happiness based on our needs for affection-esteem, survival-security, and power-control prevent us from reacting to other people and their needs. When we are locked into our private worlds, we are not present to the needs of others when they seek help. The clarity with which we see other people’s needs as a cause for our Christian action – AND RESPOND TO THEM – is in direct proportion to our own interior freedom and to our own intellectual curiosity.

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