Tuesday, April 14, 2015

We are 100 percent responsible for the pursuit of holiness, but at the same time we are 100 percent dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enable us in that pursuit.

Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven. -- St. Ephraem (306-373AD Deacon & Doctor of the Church)

Gospel Text: (JN 3:7B-15)
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘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.”
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
‘How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Meteorologists have developed finely-tuned instruments to measure natural forces that help them predict the weather. But in Jesus’ time, weather was a bit of a mystery. No one could pin down the wind. You couldn’t find its starting point or know when it would shift direction. It was always doing something unexpected. And so Jesus used this natural phenomenon to illustrate how surprising life is when you try to follow the Spirit.

On the face of it, the Spirit’s work doesn’t always seem to follow human logic. That shouldn’t surprise us, of course; earthly things are not like heavenly things! Earthly expectations don’t always predict or reflect heavenly realities. So being “born from above” is not just a patched-up earthly existence (John 3:7). It’s not a predictable progression toward a nobler version of your human self. It’s a bracing gust of wind from a God who loves to challenge assumptions and turn things upside down!

Look back over your life. Where have you seen the Holy Spirit blowing you onto a new and different path? Think about a time when God surprised you, maybe by deepening your faith as you endured a stormy period. Maybe there was a family emergency that brought people together. Maybe you lost your job, but new opportunities opened up.

So the lesson for today is God may be unpredictable, but he is completely trustworthy!

Whether the wind of his Spirit blows hard or gently, he will always respond to our faith with more grace and a deeper relationship with him. So let the lessons from your past help you lay hold of your faith in the present and the future!

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