Catch the Wind

Didn’t we just celebrate Easter nine days ago? In fact, our eight-day celebration of Easter just came to a close on Divine Mercy Sunday. How is it that the daily Gospels have returned to a period long before the death and resurrection of Jesus? I think the Church, in its great wisdom, is telling us today, “We have celebrated well what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Now it’s time to get to it.”

The story we have today isn’t just a narrative of where Jesus went, what he did, who he healed. This is not some appetizer we start into today. The third chapter of John shares with us the main course of our faith — the tenets of what we are to believe as followers of Christ. In the previous chapter, Jesus has performed his miracle at Cana and then cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of the money-changers, two very public and provocative acts. Chapter 3, in contrast, is a quiet conversation between our Lord and Nicodemus, the Pharisee who comes to Jesus at night, perhaps to avoid public scrutiny, but definitely because he wants to learn more. 

Jesus doesn’t hold back: “You must be born from above,” that is, of water and the Spirit, or as Nicodemus phrases it, born again. We know now that when we are baptized, in water and the Spirit, we take on a new life in Christ. Nicodemus at the time, however, didn’t get it.

Then Jesus does a little play on words. It might not come through in English, but spirit and wind are translated from the same word in both Greek and Hebrew. He says, “The wind blows where it will, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes …”

This line reminds me of the 1960s hit by Donovan — a song as old as I am, to be honest — a song about unrequited love, where the singer wishes he could be with the woman of his dreams, but alas, he “may as well try and catch the wind.”

Donovan, meet Nicodemus. Of course you can’t catch the wind. That’s not the point. The point is God sends the wind — and the Spirit — to you. To us. “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” It is up to us to believe.

And what does believing get us? Jesus is matter-of-fact: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

The Spirit, when we believe and accept such a great gift into our lives, changes us. Look at those early disciples in Acts. They sold their possessions, they held everything in common, they listened to the Apostles bear witness to the resurrection, and “great favor was accorded them all.” Great favor is accorded to us, too, when we believe in the resurrection, the great favor of eternal life. God has given us his Son; he gives us his Spirit. Catch it — believe — and look forward to life with our loving God.

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Mike Karpus is a regular guy. He grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, graduated from Michigan State University and works as an editor. He is married to a Catholic school principal, raised two daughters who became Catholic school teachers at points in their careers, and now relishes his two grandchildren, including the 3-year-old who teaches him what the colors of Father’s chasubles mean. He has served on a Catholic School board, a pastoral council and a parish stewardship committee. He currently is a lector at Mass, a Knight of Columbus, Adult Faith Formation Committee member and a board member of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. But mostly he’s a regular guy.

Feature Image Credit: Mila Young,