What John's gospel says in the Greek is that we must be begotten "again," but the Greek word can also mean "from above." Translators must choose one meaning or the other --- they cannot do otherwise --- but John might well have meant both meanings, playing on words.
To understand what this could mean for us, we might consider that when we are coming to life in our mothers' wombs we have no choice in the matter --- not whether, not how, not when we will be born, not any choice at all. Yet Christ has made it very clear that we have a rebirth in Baptism, one that I believe we formally choose for ourselves when we stand forth for Confirmation, and this rebirth receives its fullness when we die and leave the womb that is this world. Here on Earth, so different from waiting for our first birth, we have the choice of who we will be after we die, and as Christians we must ask ourselves whether we are choosing, with every decision and act, to become as much children of God as we can in following the example of Jesus.
We do not do make this choice and live it out purely on our own, of course, for it is the Spirit moving us and guiding us at every step; this is the same Spirit that brought Jesus to life in Mary and then continued to give him direction and strength throughout his life, as at his Baptism and (I would expect) the Transfiguration, in the Garden and on the Cross.
To be begotten both again and from above we must choose to live in that total trust in God that we call "hope," generously and fearlessly living in a most loving manner in the situations God puts us into and for those God sends into our lives....
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