Easter is a wonderful time to reflect upon the new life we receive through our relationship with Jesus. However, celebrating Easter is not just thinking about new life, but it is about experiencing new life. There are two questions:
When Jesus talked with Nicodemus about being born again, Nicodemus misunderstood him. Jesus clarified the phrase, explaining what he meant. We must be born "from above." [John 3:3]
What is this distinction Jesus is making between being born "again" and being born "from above." Jesus is talking about where life comes from. It's from him. The "new life" is a gift and it is from God.
When we are feeling tired, discouraged, and full of deadly, or self-defeating, desires and actions, we know we aren't happy, even if it is difficult to admit it. But, the desire for healing, relief, refreshment - new life - is the first step to being open to receive the gift. And, this is not a "once and for all" realization. Various deadly things go on in our lives all the time. We need to stay attentive to what's happening in us all the time. It's like when a blood clot blocks blood flow to our heart or our brain, something dies. When something blocks the flow of life to any part of our spiritual reality, something dies in us. Jesus is telling us that there is relief and new life - from above. We just need to be attentive to what is happening in us.
When we let his life course through us, we come to life again. It is all about the connection, the communion, the way we make our home in him and allow him to make his home in us. When we become branches connected to the Vine of life, then we can live again and can bear much fruit.
When he restores life to parts of us that were not very vital, the new life often means change. We feel different, and when we begin to act differently, it can feel not only "new" but "strange" or "akward." It means that old habits and patterns need to be let go of and new ones need to be practiced. This is how we are opened up to grace - open to his giving his life to us. Then we can be opened to a new way of acting and loving. This new way is characterized by greater freedom, greater mercy and greater generosity.
As it appears in us, it is a beautiful thing to behold. All of a sudden, we really like what it feels like. We like who we are becoming. It starts to feel like we are reborn, renewed, coming to life in a new way.
When we experience new life, two things are very clear.
So, let's let our longing for new life fill this Easter Season. Let's look for what needs a new vitality in us. Let's talk with the Lord about how we can stay better connected, better rooted in him. Let's let him heal what is painful or sore or deeply wounded. Let's let him show us his love and his grace. Let's ask for the graces of a new beginning, a fresh start which will bring us to life in a new way - for our own happiness - and for our vitality for others.
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