In answer Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you. Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3
Today’s gospel, Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus, found in the third chapter of John, in the last few decades has taken on a meaning which many followers of Christ are not comfortable. While many others have used the term ‘”born again” to identify themselves and those of like mind and philosophy. There are others who use the text to exclude people from God’s grace. It is safe to say it is a difficult set of passages, many preachers hope to dodge drawing their sermon from this text; while others admit during the sermon its difficulty, but weigh in anyway. I would have loved to hear Luis today.
So what am I doing using the passages in today’s meditation? If those trained have difficulty what can I hope to add? Well, I was amazed to read that the Prophet Muhammad once said, “Die before you die.” Isn’t the prophet saying something similar to what Jesus is saying? Jerry Falwell might disagree with me on this. St John of the Cross during the time he was tortured and imprisoned by fellow monks was praying to endure his torture and confinement. He told God he was dying, and asked what should he do? God came to him in a vision and said, “Then die my sweetheart – just die. Die to all that is not us; what could be more beautiful.” Isn’t John’s vision saying the same thing as well?
Perhaps, Jesus, Muhammad, and St. John are all speaking of an important transformation we all must experience. St. John in his poem says, “My soul is a candle that burned away the veil.” The veil he speaks about is what separates us from God, it is the untruths we believe that prevent us from seeing God clearly. Jesus, John and Muhammad each in slightly different words are suggesting that to experience God fully and clearly we have to rid ourselves of worldly trapping, what is – “not us.” Whether by dying, being reborn, or by removing all that is not God’s, we experience God’s kingdom when we eliminate all that is “not us.” Jesus is not talking about excluding people, but excluding those parts that are not part of God or us.