Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “ Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.
If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
When visitors step into the Jesuit mother church in Rome, the Church of the Gesù, they all do the same thing: look up. The Baroque art and architecture are designed to do precisely that, to draw one upward, into the magnificent light of heaven portrayed in the ceiling’s frescoes.
“You must be born from above,” Jesus says to Nicodemus in today’s Gospel. This notion of “from above”—de arriba—is a central dynamic of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, nowhere more so than in the “Contemplation to Attain Love.” Here, St. Ignatius invites the retreatant to consider “how all good things and gifts descend from above.”
In our secular age, it is easy to close the windows to the transcendent, to live, as it were, as if there were no “above.” Where and when today can I find a moment to look up and to consider how all good things come from above?
—Vincent Strand, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province, is studying theology in preparation for priestly ordination at the International College of the Gesù in Rome.
Christ walks the world again, his lute upon his back,
His red robe worn to tatters, his riches gone to rack.
The wind that wakes the morning blows his hair about his face,
And his arms and legs are ragged with the thorny briar’s embrace,
For the hunt is up behind him, and his sword is at his side.
Christ the bonny outlaw walks the whole world wide.
—Dorothy L. Sayers