Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter

John 3:1-8

Discourse with Nicodimus

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Born: see the note on John 1:13. From above: the Greek adverb anothen means both “from above” and “again.” Jesus means “from above” (see John 3:31) but Nicodemus misunderstands it as “again.” This misunderstanding serves as a springboard for further instruction.

John 1:13 = who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

John 3:31 = The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven (is above all).

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Nicodimus was a religious person, concerned about God and His ways. He was quite secure and comfortable in his Jewish religion. As a devout Jew he did not need much instruction about God. What he needed was a change within himself.

He was convinced that being an Israelite and receiving circumcision was enough guarantee to be saved and enter heaven. But our Lord told him the importance of being born anew in order to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodimus mistakenly thought of entering a second time his mother’s womb while Jesus meant the necessity of being baptized. It is in baptism by water and the Spirit, Jesus explains, that a person is given the new life of sanctifying grace so that he can live a supernatural life, a life more superior to the natural life which one received his/her parents. Through Baptism one becomes a child of God. This is what Jesus is insisting upon, the necessity to be born again, to be born as a child of God in order to enter heaven.

The Church teaches us that to be ‘born again it is necessary to be baptized. Practically all of us were baptized when we were babies. But over and above this, we have to live this new life of the Spirit, not only as a child of our parents but also as a child of God. (Fr. Orly Guzman, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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A young priest was supposed to preach in the prison. Day after day he tried to find some message or formula that would move heard hearts. As he entered the room, he shuddered under the gaze and stares of the crime-hardened faces. He said silent prayer for light as he walked up to the pulpit. He stumbled on the second last step and rolled head over heels right down to the floor. The prisoners broke out into loud laughter.

For a brief minute the young priest felt himself hindered by pain and shame. Then he got an idea. He jumped up, took the steps two at a time and laughed right back at his captive audience, telling them: “Men, that’s exactly why I came here today; I wanted to show you that a man can stand up after he has fallen flat on his face.”

Being reborn is not just attending daily masses or praying the novenas to numerous saints and angels. It is not wearing a cross on a bracelet or necklace. It is, as someone put it, “in the power of Christ, opening every room, every chamber of our spirit to the Holy Wind of God.” For St. Paul, being reborn is to live a life that trains us to reject godless ways, lawlessness and worldly desires. We have the ability to live as such because of the incredible gift of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit. But how we fully unwrapped this gift? A gift is of no use unless it is used and it is used according to its purpose. If someone gave you a watch it would be a nice gift but it would be silly if you used it as a paper weight rather than wearing it around your wrist. If Baptism is something that we received at one time and leave it in closet, it is not going to have tremendous effect in our lives.

Let’s thank God for the gift of Baptism by using this gift for His greater glory and our salvation which is our rebirth to eternal life. (Fr. Deva, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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“Some people are born to make the world more beautiful.” I read this line in one of the cards I received on my birthday. It was very heart-warming to know that my presence makes another’s world beautiful.

Nicodimus must have felt the beauty of the world in the company of Jesus so that he said to Jesus: “No one can do these signs that your are doing unless God is with him.” When a person says that God is with you, this means that you make the world beautiful because God made all things beautiful.

To Nicodimus, a Pharisee, the present of Jesus is not ordinary or common. One night he went to Jesus for a conversation. It was not common for a Pharisee to go to the house of an ordinary person. Although it was difficult to understand Jesus, Nicodimus knew that Jesus spoke the truth, and so he found Jesus irresistible. A person who speaks the truth is irresistible and difficult to oppose.

A story is told about a last Christian. “Doctor, if there is anything wrong with me, don’t frighten me half to death by giving it a long scientific name. just tell me in plain English,” requested the patient.

“Well,” the doctor replied hesitantly, “to be perfectly frank, you are just plain lazy.”

“Thank you, doctor,” murmured the patient. “Now gave me the scientific name so I can tell my family.”

Christians who tell or face the truth is irresistible and those who do not are boring. How can you make the world more beautiful if you are boring? (Fr. Emmanuel Ferrer, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus deals with the Christian teaching on salvation (centering the Kingdom of God by being born again from above through water and the Spirit).

The theme of water is one of the richest in the Bible, from the description of Paradise as a garden with four rivers (Gen 2:10-14) to the river flowing in the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 22:1-2). The truth about water is: Where there is water, there is life. History reveals to us that civilization grows near tohe fountains of water and the cities are built along rivers. The Bible establishes the reality that water is essential to life. In the Johannine literature, water refers primarily to the Holy Spirit. Water is primary symbol of the Spirit (CCC 694). Let it at once be said that the source of this life-giving water, that is, the Spirit, is the glorified Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is the basic requirement to enter the Kingdom of God, which happens when one is baptized with water, the symbol of the Spirit.

When Jesus died on the cross, a soldier is still pierced his side to make sure that He was dead. From the side gushed forth blood and water, to show that Jesus was dead and water to show that only when Jesus is dead can the Spirit be given.

The believer receives the Holy Spirit in baptism, and becomes a child of God, one who can worship the Father, “in spirit and in truth.” When the believer has the Holy Spirit, the prophecy of Jesus is fulfilled: “Rivers of living water will flow from within Him.” He said in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in Him were to receive (John 7:37-39). All believers then become fountains of life-giving water. They bring life and fruitfulness wherever they go making the deserts of this world bloom and be fruitful (Ezek 47). (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2009)

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GOD EVERYWHERE: “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” – John 3:3

We were a quiet and solemn group as we waited patiently for our turn to pray before the statue of St. Padre Pio that late Saturday morning in Libis, Quezon City. Seated in rows at the side of the church, I could see the person in front as he or she would go to the statue, insert his or her hand through the glass window just in line with the clasped hands of Padre Pio, and pray for his or her intentions.

My throat could not help constricting at the sight of the fervent postures of the faithful. Closing their eyes in prayer, they would stand there for a long time. Some would pray with a husband or wife, or with a little child in their arms.

Faith is such a wonderful gift. To see the hidden kingdom, to believe that St. Padre Pio can ask God on their behalf and that the Lord will answer—that is faith indeed. What a beautiful blessing we have in the Catholic Church that we believe in the Communion of Saints—those in heaven, those in purgatory, and those on earth are united and can pray for one another.

May the Lord grant us the grace to exercise this gift. May we continue to open our eyes to God’s hidden kingdom in the circumstances of our everyday lives. Joy Sosoban-Roa (jsosoban@gmail.com)

Reflection: “You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.” (A.W. Tozer)

Dear Jesus, open my eyes to Your presence, Your power and Your reign all around me. May I be a living witness of Your glory.

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1ST READING: The Early Church faced many difficulties. It struggled to establish itself in the face of much Jewish and Roman hostility. Did the Apostles give up? Did the early converts give up? They persevered in their faith because the grace of the Holy Spirit convicted them of the truth of the Gospel. Acts 4:23-31

GOSPEL: It is through our love for each other that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus. Without the Gospel in our lives we will merely follow the example of the world with its power plays, seeking of revenge, and so on. As Christians, we are called to the greater response of love and the power it brings to us. Let us be faithful to our calling to love one another as Christ loves us. John 3:1-8

think:  As Christians, we are called to the greater response of love and the power it brings to us.

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THE WOMB OF GOD: Moving away from the Easter Octave, where we revisited in our celebration of the daily Eucharist the various Gospel narratives about the appearances of Jesus risen and alive among the disciples, now we go on with the rest of the seven weeks of Easter. This journey towards Pentecost invites us to reflect daily on the fruits and consequences of the resurrection of Jesus to our faith.

This week we read through the evening encounter of Jesus with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. This story, according to the reckoning of John, happened early in the public ministry of Jesus. His reputation rising among the people who heard Him preach, Jesus was sought out by Nicodemus. They discussed a lot about the need of being born “from above.”

The Church consistently believes and preaches that the Sacrament of Christian baptism is that reality of being “born from above.” In this sacrament, we are “born in water and Spirit.” Baptismal water cleanses sin, and the anointing with the chrism oil symbolizes the giving of the Holy Spirit. This sacrament draws origin in Jesus’ resurrection, where we die to sin and rise to newness of life with Jesus.

Easter is then not only an event for Jesus; it is our big season, too. Easter is the origin of our baptism, and its last day — Pentecost — is the Church’s birthday. The baptismal font is the womb of God — giving birth to new children of God whose ultimate citizenship is heaven. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: How many baptismal godchildren do you have? What have you done to help them grow in their faith? Visit the church where you were baptized, if this is possible. Have a moment of special prayer in that birthplace of your “life from above.”

I pray, Lord, for all my baptismal godchildren. Help me to fulfill my duty to them.

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See Today’s Readings:  Cycle I,   Cycle II

Back to: Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter

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