Nicodemus Meets Jesus

Image source

Scripture readings for today's Mass are here
Gospel extract : 

Jesus said to Nicodemus, 
"You must be born from above.
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

"There is in all of us, at the very centre of our lives, a tension, an aching, a burning in the heart that is insatiable, non-quietable, and very deep…If you are alive, you are restless, full of spirit.

 Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Nicodemus visits Jesus at night and I believe the darkness is a metaphor for so many things in our spiritual life. I know that there are many times that the night has enveloped me with questions, and yet it is also true that the night is an incubator where unseen growth can develop.

Nicodemus is struggling with a faith that has caged him in. John O'Donohue said that "even in its best brightness, the mind can never fully illuminate what a life is doing." 

Something else is needed to put us in touch with the eternal and take us over the threshold of new life. The role of the night is to allow us to encounter the Spirit of God hovering over our faltering shadows of unknowing and bring us to the light of new birth.

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses" 
from The Phantom Of The Opera

John O Donohue in his book " Divine Beauty," says :
" The Holy Spirit is the spirit of primal Eros, the between that is forever quickening, the source of all the gifts that turn up in our lives."

" Our love is a sister of the light; deftly, she unwinds our shadowed nets." 

It is that striving and incessant search for light that drives us from the "dark cloud of unknowing" but behind our experience is always revelation lit by the Holy Spirit. 

Tomorrow's first reading from the Acts of The Apostles and the Gospel picks up on that here.

When out of jealousy, the high priests imprison the disciples I read,
 "But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison,
led them out, and said,
“Go and take your place in the temple area,
and tell the people everything about this life.”

English: Jesus and Nicodemus
English: Jesus and Nicodemus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Another reflection based on Richard Rohr's book Falling Upward is applied to the story of Nicodemus meeting Jesus. Click here.
Nicodemus and Jesus
Nicodemus and Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lord, Holy Spirit,
You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks,
Inside and outside the fences,
You blow where you wish to blow.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the sun who shines on the little plant,
You warm it gently, you give it life,
You raise it up to become a tree with many leaves.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the mother eagle with her young,
Holding them in peace under your feathers.

On the highest mountain you have built your nest,
Above the valley, above the storms of the world,
Where no hunter ever comes.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the bright cloud in whom we hide,
In whom we know already that the battle has been won.

You bring us to our Brother Jesus
To rest our heads upon His shoulder.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the kind fire who does not cease to burn,
Consuming us with flames of love and peace,
Driving us out like sparks to set the world on fire.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
In the love of friends you are building a new house,
Heaven is with us when you are with us.

You are singing your songs in the hearts of the poor
Guide us, wound us, heal us. Bring us to the Father

James K. Baxter, ‘Song to the Holy Spirit’, in Collected Poems (ed. John Edward Weir; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 572.

The Holy Spirit is in everything that God does.  In Genesis I read that soaring testament to the empowering endless flow of emerging possibility and new life in God.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The Holy Spirit is a most subversive invitation to awaken to who we truly are and how we can be. Plato said that one of the greatest privileges of a human life is to become midwife to the birth of the soul in another. 

When Christ is talking about rebirth he is inviting us to leave behind the weary repetitive roles that are so often quelled by lack of vision, lying behind dull domesticated barriers of filtered awareness.

The awakening of the Holy Spirit in us so that we too can act as midwives to the vision that is out of our conscious control, but guided by the Holy Spirit.

In the beginning, God created all the elements needed for His creation.

Then, everything else was formed from what had already been created. All the essential ingredients were in place. But nothing happened without the Spirit of God.
The English word moved is translated from the Hebrew word “rachaph.” It literally means “to brood as a hen sits on her eggs to hatch them.

The Holy Spirit broods over the creation of God, waiting to bring into life whatever God the Father said. When the Lord said “Let there be light,” then the Holy Spirit brought that light into being. Likewise, with everything God created and made, it was the power of the Holy Spirit that brought it all into existence.

God conceived it. Jesus spoke it and the Holy Spirit was the power that performed it. Everything God did in His creation was accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. When God was ready to bring Jesus into the earth, He took the spoken Word (Jesus), the Holy Spirit brooded over Mary, a virgin, and she conceived the Son of God.

This mysterious Trinity of God the Father and Mother, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are one. In fact, they are so much one that they can’t operate independently of each other. Jesus didn’t do any miracles or start His public ministry until after He had been anointed with the Holy Spirit. 

We are waiting for Pentecost for the Holy Spirit to animate the lives of the disciples; so too we wait in our daily lives and through the ages for that Holy Spirit to re-create and sustain us.

James Tissot Jesus and Nicodemus Source
  • My previous post on this is here.

This is a great post from John Halton on Nicodemus and Jesus, based on the final essay in James Alison’s  Faith Beyond Resentment and is the provocatively titled “Nicodemus and the Boys in the Square”. 

One section of this features a characteristically insightful look at Nicodemus’ interactions with Jesus and with his fellow Pharisees. 

Halton says :"As Alison points out, Nicodemus is in some respects a marginal figure: he appears only three times in the New Testament, and “scarcely says anything at all”.

Yet what we are told of him reveals a “huge and hidden transformation of heart”.
  • Interesting Commentary here.
  •  A poignant and personal reflection here.
 On the night before Jesus was crucified, He made this astounding statement on His  life. John 16:7 records these words: 
“ Still, I must tell you the truth; It is for your own good that I am going: for because unless I go, the Advocate will not come unto you; but if I do go, I will send him unto you. And when he comes he will show the world how wrong it was, about sin, and about who was in the right."

Extract From Psalm 139 here 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

 The Wind

No comments: