St. John was a contemplative.
The mechanics of conception and delivery are well understood; but procreation and birth is a mystery. The former can be accomplished by sheer lust; the later comes about through genuine love, which is by definition, selfless. In chapter one St. John once and for all denies the place of our ego in our relationship with God: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
A tremendous number of Christians have been taught to deny this. Belief for them is an act of the will. He that believeth on him is not condemned. This is based on the rationale that eternal security is based on willful action. And they will strongly dispute anything else precisely because their ego is at stake. Nicodemus was himself such a person. It is his own inability to find a viable way outside of his egotism that clouds his ability to see the mystery right in front of himself. And as with Nicodemus, so it is with today’s rationalists.
Mystery is airy. Love is airy. Even as the wind blows where it will. There are a lot of short courses on love and the spirit, all of them wordy, promoted by salespeople who like to hear themselves talk. But erudition is not important to people who love, as it is not important to God. And it is love that leads to life. And there is no way to even start to understand, let alone simply stand before the statements of this mystical witness in John’s Gospel without laying aside these obligatory. self-derived notions. To God, people do not exist for the sake of obligation. Instead, we are transformed in the midst of denying ourselves, which sheds light on discovery, which is a mystery.
Being born again is a secretive experience, not a notionally enculturated brainwashing that works its way out in public by the sheer fortitude of a steely will. It is intimate. It is the absolute touch of absolute love. And in this experience we become someone else. All in all we end up dying with Christ on the cross, and rising with him in his resurrection and walking away for good from the socialized ways we have been indoctrinated to ape.
The mystic St. John points a finger at the mystery of mystical rebirth. That rebirth is nothing other than a gift of God, and never will be anything else. That rebirth is a direct infusion of God’s love. It is sudden. It is inexplicable. And it quietly awakens the one infused to the presence of God. And it involves two parts. For like the disciples who experienced the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus so they at first found their hearts burning. This is the daily aspect of a living faith. But when they broke bread then we are told that their eyes flew open . And it is this second aspect that intentionally leads us even deeper into the mystery of the presence of God through a quiet, reflective faith that is solidly bound to quietly reflecting on scripture. This is the teaching of early and traditional Christianity. You can look it up for yourself. And it is none other than the contemplative calling issued at our baptism…being born of water and the Word.