Tuesday of Week 2 of Easter – Gospel

Commentary on John 3:7-15

We continue today Jesus’ night-time dialogue with the Pharisee Nicodemus.  Nicodemus, while accepting in principle what Jesus has said about being born again in the Spirit, now wants to know how it can be brought about.

Jesus accuses Nicodemus and his fellow-leaders of a lack of spiritual insight and a refusal to accept his testimony as coming directly from God:

If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

Jesus does not speak simply on his own initiative.  He speaks of what he shares with the Father. It is the Father’s words and teaching that he passes on to us – he is the Word of God. His is not just a speaking Word; it brings all things from nothing, calls the dead to life, hands on the Spirit, the source of unending life, and makes us all children of God. To experience all this we need to have faith in Jesus as truly the Word of God and to live our lives in love.

But the Word is not always easy to understand and it requires, above all, an openness to be received and witness.* It is this openness that Jesus is challenging Nicodemus to have. People respond to the Word in so many ways. Some believe fully, others go away disappointed in spite of the many signs.  One is reminded of the parable of the sower. To which group do I belong?

And, up to now, only the Son has been “into heaven,” that is, with God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

It is from there that:

…the Word became flesh and lived among us. (John 1:14)

He is in a position, therefore, to speak about “heavenly things”, that is, to speak of everything that pertains to and comes from God.

The only solution is to put all our focus on Jesus:

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

This is a reminder of the incident in the book of Numbers (21:9) where, as a punishment for their sins, the Israelites were attacked by serpents.  God told Moses to erect a bronze serpent on a pole and all who looked at the serpent were saved.

Jesus, in a much greater way, will also be “lifted up” both on the cross and into the glory of his Father through the Resurrection and Ascension.  And he will be a source of life to all who commit themselves totally to him.  Only then will we be washed clean by the water from the pierced side (see John 19:34 and Zech 13:1).

To what extent are we “looking at” Jesus?  Is it merely a sideways glance when we think about him, or at certain fixed times (e.g. Sunday Mass), or is he the centre of our attention in all that we do and say?

Let our constant prayer be:

Lord, grant that all my thoughts, intentions, actions and responses may be directed solely to your love and service this day and every day.


*For numerous references about vv 11-12 of this passage, see the footnote in the New Jerusalem Bible.

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