[Jesus said to Nicodemus,] “Don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again from above.’
“The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus asked again, “How can this be?” And Jesus answered, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you don’t know these things!
Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you don’t accept our testimony. If you don’t believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
The life of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba, the Greek, vacillated between love and rebellion against God. He wrote, “Struggle between flesh and spirit, rebellion and resistance, reconciliation and submission, and finally – the supreme purpose of the struggle – union with God: this was the ascent taken by Christ, the ascent which he invites us to take as well, following in his bloody tracks.” (R. Rolheiser, Wrestling with God, 2007-07-29)
Buddhism teaches that one has to leave the mind empty of all greed, anger and delusion. Mystics had experienced and taught that suffering is one of the ways to ascent to God. Jesus had to go down to his “desert of temptations,” “Gethsemane of agony” and the “Cross of Calvary” before he could ascend to “heaven of bliss.” There is no glory without sacrifice. Unless one kisses the face of the earth, he cannot kiss the face of God.
“I remained, lost in oblivion; my face I reclined on the Beloved. All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies (Quedéme y olvidéme; el rostro recliné sobre el amado; cesó todo, y dejémedejando mi cuidadoentre las azucenas olvidado. St. John of the Cross).
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