“Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in His patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to His house, to dwell in His loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by Him and to encounter His mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel His embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.” ~Pope Francis, homily excerpt, Divine Mercy Sunday 2013
Monday, April 13 ~ Second Week in the Season of Easter
Holy Gospel: John 3:1-8 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” 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 old 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. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Meditation: Notice how Nicodemus was hungry for God’s word – so hungry that he became the closest disciple of Jesus. He sought Jesus out, though surreptitiously in the dead of the night. Why? Nicodemus was a “leader of the Jews”, “a teacher of Israel” (ref. John 3:10), and a member of the religious party most opposed to the teaching of Jesus. In fact, John’s gospel account states that it was Nicodemus’ own group, the Pharisees, which intimidated the authorities against confessing Jesus (ref. John 12:42).Instead he engaged him in a seemingly unrelated topic of conversation. Jesus said that rebirth was necessary to enter the kingdom of God. Of course, Nicodemus the Pharisee had already found religion, so he thought that Jesus must have referred to physical rebirth. No, Jesus responded, someone who is reborn spiritually knows the experience as surely as one who has been refreshed by an invisible breeze. How can a respected rabbi among the Jews not know this? And that is precisely the point. Nicodemus is the first of what we might loosely call the official clergy with whom Jesus has personal engagement. The Gospel portrays Nicodemus as a defender of Jesus’ right to a fair trial (ref. John 7:-51). Nicodemus also helped to bury Jesus with honor. Nicodemus did not understand the new birth which Jesus spoke of until after the resurrection.
Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who have been renewed by paschal remedies, transcending the likeness of our earthly parentage, may be transformed in the image of our heavenly maker. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: We’ve all heard the term to be “born again” or to be “reborn” in Christ. What does it mean to be reborn? The new birth Jesus speaks of is a spiritual birth to new life and relationship with God as his sons and daughters. This new birth is made possible when one is baptized into Christ and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. God wants to renew all his people in the gift of new life in his Holy Spirit. This new life brings us into God’s kingdom or heavenly rule. What is God’s kingdom? God’s kingdom is that society in which God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. To be reborn is to enter that society in which God is honored and obeyed, to live as his son or daughter, and to enter into possession of that life which comes from God himself, a never-ending life of love, peace, joy, and freedom from sin and the fear of death. Do you know the joy and freedom of new life in Jesus Christ?