Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 4:23-31; John 3:1-8)

The RCIA director was reflecting on her experience of the Easter Vigil. It was amazing, she said; men and women were changed as if they had completely new lives. It may be presumed that it was not just the participation in the services of Holy Saturday that transformed the people. Rather they became new creations by the process of continual meeting, reflection and prayer. This kind of change seems to be what Jesus is getting at in his conversation with Nicodemus in today’s gospel.

The passage begins with Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. Perhaps the intention here is only to explain how a Jewish leader could consult Jesus for theological truth. However just as likely, “night” is used here to give a nefarious tone to the scene. Like most people, Nicodemus comes to Jesus as a sinner. So conditioned, he has difficulty grasping what Jesus is saying. In fact, to Nicodemus Jesus’ message sounds ludicrous. “How can a man once grown old,” he asks, “be born again?” Sinners do not appreciate, and much less anticipate, the work of the Spirit that revitalizes people by giving both new reasons and new directions for living.

Graciously Nicodemus does not remain in darkness forever. Once Jesus hands over his spirit in death, Nicodemus will take it up to give Jesus in daylight the royal burial that he is due. The same Spirit is working in us as we show respect to everyone, even those who wrong us.