I cannot remember much about my baptism. I was older; it was after Christmas just past my sixth birthday. It took place at a Protestant church where I wore a green velvet dress, matching my little sister. Two decades later I came into the Catholic Church, and while I was confirmed again, I was not re-baptized.
As Catholics we believe a trinitarian Baptism is our spiritual birth and therefore, cannot happen twice. Our baptism transforms us opening a door to grace and allowing us to enter into the other Sacraments and gifts the Church gives us.
Today’s Gospel reading (John 3:1-8) tells of Nicodemus, a law-abiding Pharisee who’s boggled by the concept of re-birth. Immediately he questions Jesus about how that can be. His thinking is stuck within the confines of our physical nature, and his response speaks of his inability to move past the physical world into the spiritual.
I’m guessing many of you like me don’t recall your actual baptismal day. Perhaps there are pictures to mark the occasion, maybe it’s marked as a special day on the calendar. The main transformation goes much deeper than what a photo can capture, what is physically seen. Our souls are inscribed with God’s mark, allowing for an active opening of ourselves to the life of grace, and inviting the Holy Spirit to do His work.
Later in the Gospel story, Nicodemus comes alongside Joseph of Arimathea as together they have the privilege to tend to Jesus’ body after His death on the Cross. He took what Jesus said to heart and was changed, and now he is honored as a Saint.
Continually being receptive of the Holy Spirit is not for the faint of heart. It’s outside of the physical realm that we can see and touch. The Scripture tells us, “The wind blows where it will . . . but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). But we do know God is good, and we can have courage to trust the Holy Spirit to take action in our lives.
Here is a little further reading on Nicodemus.
Sarah Ortiz is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother to four boys while living in a 200 year old farmhouse. When not folding laundry, she can be found reading, experimenting in the kitchen, or snagging amazing antique furniture deals. You can find out more about her here.