Posted by: livingscripture | April 13, 2015

Second Monday of Easter

From the Word of the Day 

“Nicodemus…came to Jesus at night…Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’  Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man once grown be born again?  Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?’  Jesus answered, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.  What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit’.”    (John 3: 3-6)              

 

How should we live this WordNicodemus 1

In today’s Gospel and that of the two following days, we read of the encounter of Jesus with Nicodemus that hold a wealth of profound teachings even for us.  Nicodemus is a very elusive personage.  He is renowned among the Jews and is a member of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin.  He is a scholar of Israel and He wants to dialogue with Jesus.  He goes to Jesus and starts to speak, but it is Jesus who leads the dialogue, bringing Nicodemus on unforeseen roads and making him face his basic incredulity.  He goes to Jesus ‘by night’.  Does he desire quiet and a lengthy time for deep conversation?  Or is he afraid of compromising himself and coming out into the open?  For now, it is best that we remain under the attraction of this nocturnal poetic image of two in conversation in a darkened setting.

Nicodemus is a cultured man who has studied the Law and teaches it.  But this is not enough!  Thus the real meaning of the encounter; “What is born of flesh is flesh”.  Nicodemus represents the radical impotence of human nature and thus each of us, abandoned to ourselves with only our own strength.  In fact, he refuses to see through the signs, something that goes beyond his logical and rational conclusion that Jesus comes from God.  He must truly measure his own faith and accept the leap of abandonment in the Spirit to reach regeneration and rebirth.  Jesus is speaking of rebirth from on high.  There are no better words to highlight both our radical human impotence and the gratuity and absolute newness of the gift.

Let us look first at human impotence.  This is, in fact, the theme that runs through the entire dialogue.  Nicodemus is a Teacher in Israel, but he is closed in his religious convictions and therefore cannot penetrate the mystery of God’s Life.  Then there is the absolute newness of the gratuitous gift that can be summarized in these few phrases:  we cannot enter the Kingdom of God by conquering it or through our religious reasoning, but only through rebirth, through the grace of Love – the Spirit, like a child, like a newborn!

Amen, amen I say to you, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.  The expression ‘water and Spirit’ is undeniably tied to Baptism, the sacrament of new Life.

In my pause for silent contemplation, I will ponder this stupendous encounter of Jesus and Nicodemus, letting myself be deeply involved in it as well.  Am I ready to be reborn from on high; to docilely entrust myself to the Spirit?

The Voice of St. Augustine

The Lord wanted Nicodemus to be born of the Spirit.  One can only be born of the Spirit if one is humble, because humility lets us be born of the Spirit.  Nicodemus was a teacher and too sure of himself as a Jewish scholar.  Jesus helps him to free himself from pride so as to be born of the Spirit.

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