Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/043019.cfm
There’s probably not a person here who hasn’t asked at some point in life: “How can this happen?” Life throws challenges at us, like the death of a child, or a few hurricanes, or a failed relationship, and we get a little shaky in our faith. We want answers.
Today we meet Nicodemus, who also had poignant questions and wanted some answers. He was trying to understand what Jesus meant by being “born again”.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council. He was an influential man in religious circles. He probably had some wealth. In general, people looked up to him.
He came to Jesus at night, however, because he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus. He was afraid of what others might say about him. But Nicodemus had these questions that he wanted answered. Jesus had sparked his interest and he just had to go meet him.
In many ways, we are like Nicodemus coming to Jesus, confused and looking for answers. Jesus wants Nicodemus, and us, to look at life, even if it is full of threatening, intimidating situations, with the eyes of faith.
No matter what challenge we are facing, Jesus wants us to look beyond the simply human elements so we can take up that challenge with trust and confidence in him. Jesus wanted Nicodemus to rise above his fear (which is why he came looking for Jesus in the dark of night), and stand as a beloved, chosen child of God.
When Jesus said, “You must be born again” — born from above, born of the Spirit — he was saying that the Christian life is not a set of beliefs or a moral code, it is an experience. Talk to of either the 2 people who were baptized at the Easter Vigil and they will tell you how their hearts have been touched and what a difference their newfound relationship with God and this community have meant to them.
God does not want our faith or our obedience as much as God wants us. He wants to have a relationship with us, and if we have missed having this relationship, we have missed everything. We are called to be God’s children, and to build up the kingdom.
And it seems that Nicodemus did have a change in his life. Later in the Scriptures, we read about him speaking up for Jesus during the Passion, and then going with Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve the body of Jesus after his crucifixion (John 19:39). Something must have gotten through to move Nicodemus from a strict, religious person to a person who had a living, personal relationship with God. The change in him could only be described as being born again.
In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus says that the Spirit is like the wind blowing and we never know where it comes from or where it will go. Like the wind, whether it’s a few little gusts, or a howling, full sail hurricane force to be reckoned with, we never know, either, where we’ll hear Jesus’ voice. ..maybe from a scripture verse, maybe a prayer at Mass, perhaps through a family member, neighbor, or someone in need. All Jesus asks is that we remain open to hear his voice, and let his love and message transform our hearts.