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.
In several languages the same word (ruah in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek, spiritus in Latin, etc.) means at same time: breath, wind and human spirit (or even Holy Spirit depending on the context). Why is this? Perhaps because, as long as people are alive, that is, have a working mind (= spirit) inside them, then they also breathe, and breath is basically a small wind. Because of this commonality of meaning, Jesus liked to compare (as he does in today’s gospel reading) the Holy Spirit to a kind of wind. And that is quite logical. After all, the wind is invisible like the Holy Spirit and yet can have a tremendous effect on things and people (think of a hurricane or a typhoon). Also, the wind is unpredictable in its displacements, just as the Holy Spirit is entirely free to bring his gifts to whomever He wants. Some people, though no action of theirs, are born and raised in a thoroughly Christian environment and believe in God’s word as easily as they breathe—while others learn only harsh atheism from their environment. With the Spirit, anything is possible—even our transformation into saints!
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