Rebirth and Renewal

15 November 2006: Wednesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Titus 3, 1-8: Rebirth and Renewal

The first reading teaches us that God’s love and grace is felt through the mediation of people within the Church, but behind its power is the Holy Spirit. For example, St. Paul uses two words, rebirth and renewal. The Greek word used for rebirth is paliggenesia. It used in many ways. If one is newly baptized in the Jewish religion, he or she is treated like a child signifying that the new convert has began a new life. Many people believed in re-birth or re-incarnation, such as the Pythagoreans, the Mystery Religions, Hinduism, and the Stoics. The point however is simple: that a person, who has entered into a new faith, acquires a new life. Thus, when Paul said that a person who accepts Christ as His Savior, that person experiences a rebirth. The person is cleansed of his/her sins, and then, God re-creates the person. Renewal takes on a daily meaning. Once given a new life, as in baptism, when we are reborn, we strive to become what we have become --- a child of God. However, we all know that the struggle involved in trying to be one has with it failures, disappointments, and yes, sinning. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the mediation of the priest, gives us the chance to move on again, the change of renewal. Therefore, renewal connotes the daily appropriation of our faith, when we have digressed to what we are not. The absolution that the priest gives illustrates the Church’s mediation in giving each member the chance of renewal. He says, “Through the ministry of Church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Mediation of the Church in God’s grace and love is witness in the baptism. The priest may do the pouring of water on the heads of the children/adults to be baptized, but it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that they become Christians. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest may hear the penitent’s sins, but it is the Holy Spirit who cleanses and forgives them. When you have hurt someone and has reconciled with him, you feel a certain peace and lightness of heart. The person may have said the words, “I forgive you,” but it is the Holy Spirit who lifted up the burden and guilt. Rebirth and renewal in God is made possible through the instruments of human beings.

In our lives, the same thing happens. We first experience the love of God through our parent’s care and concern. And then, we find ourselves being taken cared of by God after we leave our homes to study and to work through the friends that we find. When we celebrate our birthdays, we thank the Lord for the grace of friendship and the years of blessings and challenges. God’s grace is indeed mediated through people.

Therefore, we can reflect on our lives. How do we mediate God’s love to others? What aspects of our lives need renewal? We pray that as St. Paul teaches us today that as children of God, we mediate God’s love to others. We hope that we may recognize God in the faces of our neighbors, and at the same time, recognize God working through our lives.

*I took this at Mirador Villa, Bagiuo City.

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