April 20, 2020 (Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter)
Of water and the Spirit
Dear friends in Christ, the courage to do what is right demands the grace of God. The gift of new life at baptism coupled with the descent of the Spirit on the baptised provides the needed courage to work for God.
Our first reading today (Acts 4:23-31) shows clearly the attitude of the Apostles to the sufferings that came with their witnessing to Christ. Everyone saw himself as an ambassador of the community and whatever is suffered for the name of Christ is also shared with all. While they were steadfast in the sharing of the words of the Apostles, they were also steadfast in fellowship and in the breaking of the bread and prayers. Peter and John went back and gave a report to the community of their ordeals in the hands of those who had taken them into custody. The community of believers on hearing them lifted their voices together in prayer and praise. In it we have a window to the early community’s thinking: they directed their prayer to God, the Father and creator who knows all things and has the world in his hands. They told God what they have faced and considered the threats as directed to God and not just the Apostles and so prayed for courage to preach the gospel. While they prayed, the house in which they were was shaken and the Holy Spirit rested upon them giving them the power to speak the word of God with boldness.
The Gospel (John 3:1-8) is on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus—a leading Pharisee, who came to Jesus by night and questioned him on what it means to be born again. Rebirth in Christ, has to do with the washing in water and the descent of the Spirit on the baptised. Jesus told him, “Truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” This instruction is very clear. It goes beyond someone just declaring his acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, it demands that the ritual washing of water takes place and the person is anointed with the oil of Chrism which signifies the descent of the spirit. Those who are born again in this way, are also expected to live a life that is worthy of their calling in Christ, obeying his word and living in fellowship with others.
As a christian, examine yourself, what is your baptism to you? What has the sacrament of confirmation added? Are you living according to the mind of Christ? Do you have the courage to tell the truth and defend it?
Let us pray: Lord, help me to be your true follower. Give me the courage to be firm in my commitment to the will of God and to follow faithfully the teachings of the Church. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.