Scripture: Lectionary 267. 2nd Monday after Easter, 4/16. Acts 4:23-31. Psalm 2:1-3.4-6.7-9. John 3:1-8
Our liturgical readings shift from the Resurrection narratives to the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the community of believers in Jesus the Risen Lord. We are led to see this happening after Peter and John are surrounded by the community. They are strengthened by the mighty work they did on the cripple in the name of Jesus. Now they are confident they can continue to proclaim his Name not only to their own people but to the Gentiles as well. They reflect and pray and the Holy Spirit comes upon them so visibly that the house where they are praying shakes. They now can speak boldly and with assurance the Good News about Jesus of Nazareth and the last things that happened to him under Pontius Pilate. That now is history and the Spirit is now at work within them and the community of those who believe in Jesus.
Our Psalm attests to God’s anointed one and how he was persecuted both by the Gentiles and the leaders of the people who conspired against him. That no longer is a threat to them even though they, too, may undergo persecution from those who will hate the new community of those believing in the Name and power of Jesus working among them through the Holy Spirit.
They read the psalms with new fervor and insight realizing that the promises of God’s Anointed One (the Messiah) is with them as they too will suffer for the sake of his Name. “Why do the Gentiles rage, the peoples conspire in folly?” (Psalm 2:1). This psalm and 110 will continue to appear in the New Testament in relationship to the messianic promise applied by Christian writers to the person of Jesus.
The Gospel of John tells the encounter of Jesus with Nicodemus by night. Nicodemus is, so to speak, a crypto-christian, waiting to see how things will turn out for Jesus and his followers. He is important for it is he who gives us the words of Jesus about “being born again” or better, “being born from above.” The Greek attests to both meanings of the word “ano”. The Holy Spirit is the one who begets in the spirit. “Everyone begotten of the Holy Spirit is born from above.” We have been living in this realm of the sacrament of Baptism since Holy Saturday. The Scriptures keep reminding us of the importance of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is this sacrament that gives us the courage and the understanding of how to preach Jesus Christ boldly yet calmly through our actions more than our words. Christ is born again in our hearts through the gift and grace of his Resurrection. Our readings develop and strengthen us almost each day with this Easter message. Amen. Alleluia.