Daily Readings Reflection for 4/21/09

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Reflection on the Daily Readings for 4/21/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings


Scripture: Tue. of Easter second week. Acts 4:32-37. Psalm 92:1.1-2.5. John
3:7-15. Lectionary # 268:

Nicodemus comes secretly to Jesus at night. This happens in Jerusalem
because Nicodemus is a leader among the Pharisees and a member of the
Sanhedrin.  This Council consisted of seventy-one members and met in the
Hall of the Hewn Stones in Jerusalem.  We actually have more information
about it from the New Testament and Josephus than from the Rabbinic
literature which is much later. Nicodemus may have been a member of the
smaller court Sanhedrin consisting of twenty-three members. It is he who
speaks on behalf of Jesus to have a fair hearing (John 7:50). He takes part
in the burial of Jesus and brings a large and costly quantity of spices for
Jesus’ burial (John 19:39).  These are the only lines we have about him but
they point toward his becoming a disciple of Jesus after the Resurrection.

In the first great dialogue and monologue series that we have between
Jesus, Nicodemus is searching to find out more about who Jesus is.  Jesus
begins to explain to him how those who believe in Jesus’ authority must be
“born from above”; the word in Greek can also mean “born again.”  This
later seems to be the way Nicodemus understands it but Jesus is looking at
what he tells Nicodemus from another perspective.  Jesus speaks of his
being from above: “No one has gone up to heaven except the One who came
down from there–the Son of Man (a title used by Jesus for himself)–who is
in heaven.”

The entire passage is easily understood by the first audience of this
Gospel as pertaining to Baptism and the Paschal Mysteries.  That is where
we too are being given Jesus’ revelation to us about the importance of
Baptism and a lifetime commitment to Jesus and his deeds and words.  It is
the Risen Lord who speaks to us through this Gospel.  The Paschal Mysteries
are referred to when Jesus says for the first time in the Fourth Gospel:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man
be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in Him.”

Each Gospel has three dimensions to it and in this one we see first,
the time of Jesus when he speaks to Nicodemus, then the time of the oral
tradition in the community when this story was remembered, and finally the
time of the Evangelist who speaks not only for the people then involved but
for all of us who believe in Jesus.  Jesus then is alive in the Scriptures
and in the Eucharist and whenever we gather together in his Name.    Jesus
as we know from the Prologue of John is the great Apostle sent from the
Father to become one with us by coming down from heaven that he might lift
us up to be with him eternally in heaven.  The peace and joy of Easter are
present once we start to realize this through our own faith in him and
commit ourselves to him by living out our Baptismal promises. Amen.

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