April 17, 2012

HOMILY for Easter Week 2, Tuesday

Acts 4:32-37; Ps 92; John 3:7-15

Living in windy Edinburgh, I have been amazed at how the wind suddenly picks up, and comes rushing across the Meadows. From our priory above here we can both hear the roar of the wind, and see the undulating waves of the trees. In its power and unexpectedness, this wind is rather awesome, and I recall on one occasion saying: “the Spirit is active again today”. For, like the wind, the Holy Spirit is awesome, powerful, and can be rather unexpected in what he inspires. And, of course, in Hebrew and in Greek, one word is used for both ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’: ruah in Hebrew, and pneuma in Greek, so that we have a delightful play of words so that we can say: “the wind blows where it wills…”, and at the same time understand it as “the Spirit blows where it wills…” 

But I don’t think that Jesus intends primarily to say that the Spirit is like the wind. Rather, his primary purpose is to answer Nicodemus’ question about how one can be born again, and Nicodemus has understood rebirth in a physical manner. So, Jesus points out that the rebirth he speaks of is invisible; it is spiritual. And, like the wind, our spiritual birth is also invisible. But even though this is mysterious and invisible, we can also, as with the wind, feel the effects of being born again in the Spirit.

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