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Victory People!

May 26, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014: Second Monday of Easter

Acts 4:23-31. As they prayed, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
John 3: 1-8. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.

Gospel Reflection:

Christ is risen!  R. He is risen indeed!

The Evangelist pens a brief Scripture passage today.  Brief, yes, but packed with explosiveness and ripe with symbolic meaning.  We are introduced to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a Rabbi teacher in his own right.  John brings him, as Fr. Bruce Vawter calls him, “representing the quintessence of Judaism.”  His very name means “victory people”.  But first, Nicodemus comes to the Lord at night.  He approaches Him out of the darkness.  Of course he did, the ruling elite of Israel were already voicing their disapproval of Jesus.  So it’s night time to avoid retribution – it’s the political suicide, that we witness our politicians avoiding ever so often today.  If he’s seen with the Lord, he is done.  But Nicodemus, just like us, is aware of the darkness.  He is aware that he is now walking in spiritual darkness, lacking the enlightenment of true faith.

A sacrament is (c’mon ‘Cradles’) an outward sign instituted by Christ, to give grace, and it is efficacious grace; meaning it has the power to produce a desired effect.  SO, the Sacrament of Baptism produces regeneration; being born again.  How?  Baptize means “plunge”, and with it we plunge down into Christ’s death, from which we rise up by resurrection with him.  Dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life, right?  It causes what it signifies.

Nicodemus doesn’t know this yet, but he knows something big is going on, by witnessing the signs Jesus has been working.  Only through a spiritual rebirth will Nicodemus – and us – come to victory.  So the Lord needs to show him he is from God in a way that he does not understand – yet.

unless one is born of water and Spirit

Dying and rising.  The old rabbi does not yet understand “unless one is born from above.”  He is still thinking in the material sense.  So the Lord gets more specific: “unless one is born of water and Spirit.”  Spirit.  Pneuma – you may have heard that Greek before.  The wind – pneuma – blows where it wills.” Pneuma. Spirit. Breath of God.  Where is Jesus leading him, leading all of Israel, leading us?  Regeneration.  Creation.  Can you see it?  Jesus is taking the old rabbi to somewhere he knows; somewhere he is familiar with; back to the beginning:  Genesis.

So real quick everyone turn to Genesis in their bibles. Chapter 1, verse 1:  In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a “mighty wind” swept over the waters.  Mighty wind – pneuma.  Breath of God swept over, above, the waters.  Born of water and Spirit.  Jesus brought him to what he did know and connected it!  He enlightened Nicodemus, who will be back – only in John though – to continue Israel’s education.  He enlightens the rest of us – still – today.




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