The readings for this post can be found by clicking here.
While I do not hear it as much anymore, there was a period of time where Christians (especially Evangelical Christians) would ask others if they had been born again. If the answer was yes, often individuals would identify themselves as “Born Again Christians.” Interestingly, however, they are making the same mistake that Nicodemus made as recounted in today’s gospel. In fact, the phrase that was translated “being born again” is a mistranslation. Here is what Jesus said. “You must be born from above.” There is a little play on words here as the word for “again” and “above” are similar in Aramaic. What Jesus is saying to us is that we must be born “from above.”
This notion of being born “from above” is important. What does it mean to be born “from above?” To be born from above is simply to be baptized, to accept the gift of baptism and to live as one who is baptized because of the reception of the Holy Spirit. The sacraments are always an encounter with Jesus, an encounter where heaven and earth come together.
This notion of “from above” will also indicate the behaviors and the actions we do in our lives to focus on things that are “from above.” This gospel reading has special significance for today. As we celebrate during this Easter season the triumph of Jesus over sin and death, we do so because of both the death of Jesus and his resurrection. In fact, when the gospel says the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom, at the moment of Jesus’ death on the Cross, it is more accurate to say the curtain the Temple was torn from above (anothen in Greek) to below (kato).
What this suggests is that the death of Jesus, and his subsequent resurrection open for all people a gateway to heaven. One of the curtains in the Temple (there were two) covered the entry way to the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could enter, and even then only on the Day of Atonement. So the death of Jesus, at which the curtain is torn in two, and his subsequent resurrection, is a sign for us that now the pathway between heaven and earth is not available only through the high priest, but is now available to all who seek the Lord Jesus, and most especially those who seek Jesus in the sacraments. So whether you are close to the sacraments and celebrate them regularly (Mass and confession, for example) or you have not been for a while, take this time to ask Jesus for the grace to see him as the Way, the way to heaven, the way to a deep and fulfilling relationship that leads to eternal life.