Monday of the Second Week of Easter
In the dark of night, Nicodemus secretly sought out Jesus to obtain the light of truth. He risked his reputation among the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin if he was caught consulting Israel’s most wanted.
“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.”John 3:2
The gentle voice of truth in the heart managed to gain a hearing in Nicodemus above the internal and external din of mob pressure and conformity. Humility and courage opened his eyes to see the hand of God in Jesus’ signs among the people.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”John 3:3
A new seed, a new birth, a complete regeneration of our nature in divine grace was called for by Jesus. Anóthen (ἄνωθεν), “from above,” “from the origin,” or “again” and “anew” hearkens to a beginningless beginning—God himself (John 1:12-13). The water and Spirit of the original and eternal Womb of God the Father beckons humanity and the cosmos back to its origin (bereshit, the opening word of the Torah in Genesis 1:1, “in the beginning”).
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”John 3:4
Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.John 3:5-6
Flesh and spirit, Adam and the cosmos, were created to be one in the beginning. The sin of division and war among the elements characterizes the landscape of reality post-Eden. John’s Prologue introduces a new beginning, a new bereshit in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.John 1:1-2
The new Adam is anóthen, born “from above,” the Son of God who has integrated spirit and flesh, humanity and the cosmos, Jew and Gentile, and male and female in his own person. A new beginning calls for a new birth, the fulfillment of the cosmic cleansing of Noah’s flood.
Christ, the ark of salvation, leads all creation ashore the Promised Land in his Body through “water and Spirit.” At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river, the Father declared the divine Sonship of Christ to all the world:
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”Mark 1:11; Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22
Words, images, symbols and reality in Genesis 1:2 and John 3:5 come together in the lives of real persons transformed by Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘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.”John 3:7-8
Are the children of God evanescent and hard to pin down, like the wind? Jesus’ description sounds rather ghostlike. The risen Christ himself models the enigmatic and poetic description of persons “born of the Spirit.” Like a ghost, Jesus appeared and disappeared, and moved through solid walls and doors in his risen flesh. At the same time, he invited his disciples to touch his body and realize that he was not a ghost:
While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.Luke 24:36-43
Two millennia after the resurrection, the words and actions of Jesus in the Gospels continue to stretch human faith and imagination. Saints past and present, starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Mary Magdalene, the holy women, and the disciples testify that Christ is truly risen. He is risen indeed!