REFLECTION FOR TODAY
April 12, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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” Jn. 3:1-3
Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus “at night.” Coming to see Jesus at night was very significant in this encounter. St. Augustine, reflecting on this encounter said that Nicodemus came to Jesus “at night” because Nicodemus was not yet fully born again and, therefore, was not yet living fully in the light of faith. But the fact that Nicodemus does come to Jesus and questions Him at length shows that he had a spark of faith and that he wanted to deepen that faith. He clearly hoped that Jesus was the Messiah and professed that Jesus was “a teacher who has come from God.”
In our gospel reference today, we hear of Nicodemus visit to Jesus at night and their conversation. Imagine Nicodemus’ surprise when Jesus told him about being born from above. Jesus’ response raised the conversation to a higher level, using the image of rebirth in the Spirit to highlight the qualitatively different nature of life that God wants to bring about in us.
The new life Jesus achieved for us through his death and resurrection is completely different from the life of the flesh which is a life cut off from God and characterized by sinful passions, strife, jealousy, anger, hatred, selfishness and dissension. Powerless to overcome sinful habits, life in the flesh is bound up in these patterns of behavior. This is the very reason a new birth is necessary to enter the kingdom of God.
In many ways, Nicodemus is a great example for us today in our modern world. More and more, in most secular world cultures, being a follower of Jesus is looked down upon. This is especially true if you choose to live your faith openly and believe all that the Gospels teach.
Many Christians find that living their faith openly, especially within the workplace, school environments, and other civic circles, is challenging. And like Nicodemus, many find it easier to come to Jesus “at night,” meaning, in a hidden way. And though Nicodemus started this way, he eventually spoke openly in defense of Jesus in the presence of his fellow Pharisees who, according to some traditions, persecuted him and drove him into exile.
Reflect, today, on Nicodemus. He allowed the spark of faith within him to grow as He listened to Jesus, struggled with the pressure from his peers, but ultimately openly professed his faith in Christ. And though this hurt his worldly position of honor within the Sanhedrin and among the earthly rulers, it earned Nicodemus an eternal honor in Heaven. Reflect upon the courage he must have had to go against the pressure of his peers by allowing the faith he found in Christ to grow and fill his life with the light of Truth. Seek to imitate this good man and allow yourself to be inspired by his courage so that you, too, will receive the same eternal glory he now enjoys in Heaven.
Lord of light and truth, You reveal Yourself to those who come to You with faith. Help me to follow the example of Nicodemus so that all confusion and darkness will be dispelled by the light of Your truth. Give me courage, dear Lord, to follow You and to set my heart on all that You reveal. Jesus, I trust in You.