Water and the Spirit

nicodemus laurence

Jesus and Nicodemus have a profound conversation in today’s gospel.  Jesus tells this prominent religious leader that in order to be saved one needs to be born from above.

Jesus answered and said to him,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 
Nicodemus said to him,
“How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.

Some of our Christian brothers and sisters suggest that Jesus requires that we be “born again,” a requirement that can only be accomplished by making a public profession that one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior.  They often proclaim that Catholics are not “saved” because they do not make this public profession.

But that’s not what Jesus said to Nicodemus, is it?  Read the quoted passage again.  Jesus is perfectly clear that one enters the Kingdom of God by being “born of water and spirit.” This requirement, of course, is satisfied through participation in the sacrament of baptism, where we are reborn though the sign of water and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So if anyone tells you that you must be born again to be saved, tell them that you have been baptized by water and the Holy Spirit.  Then invite them to take a closer look at the third chapter of John’s Gospel!

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