Posted by: fvbcdm | April 16, 2012

Feast of Saint Bernadette Soubirous (16 April 2012)

Today is the 85th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, so I ask your prayers for him and the effectiveness of his ministry as long as he serves us as our supreme pontiff and as long as he is the Vicar of Christ on earth.  

Then, in the gospel of today’s Mass, we have that odd little episode of Nicodemus coming to see Jesus by night. It is odd because Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jewish leaders of the time.  He was obviously a good man, a man with an open mind who would not condemn a man without giving him a hearing.  On the other hand, he had to consider his exalted position in the Jewish hierarchy.  What would people say if they saw him going to consult Jesus of Nazareth, who more and more was becoming unpopular with the Powers that Be?  So he went at night, under cover of darkness, to ask Jesus questions and hear what this remarkable man of Nazareth was actually teaching and preaching.  Saint John the Evangelist does not tell us exactly what he asked Jesus, but he does tell us what Jesus told Nicodemus. Our Lord’s words are these:  “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  Now, the word which Our Lord used could be taken two ways.  Either “born from above” or “born again.”  Jesus means “born from above,” but Nicodemus takes it to mean “born again.”  Now, to be born means to begin to live.  And more specifically, to begin to live outside the womb. When we say “I was born on April 16,” we really mean that we emerged from the womb on April 16, but had lived our own individual life within the womb for approximately nine months before that.  But we all agree that we can’t be born from the womb a second time.  But Jesus is speaking of the spiritual world where it IS possible to be born more than once. I was born physically on December 13, 1929; I was born spiritually on January 5, 1930.  And that second birth took place by water and the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism.  

It is very appropriate that we read this passage from Saint John’s gospel now, in this Easter season.  Easter is the celebration of the new life of Christ who rose from the tomb. Some thirty-three years earlier, he had been born from his mother’s womb in Bethlehem. Just a few hours after his death and burial, he was born from the tomb into a new and triumphant life.   And each year, we Christians celebrate the two births of Christ by conferring the gift of Baptism upon newborn babies as well as adult men and women who have come to believe in our Divine Lord and wish to become members of his Church.

 

Our fathers and mothers gave us physical life.  The Three Divine Persons have given us spiritual life.  One day, we are going to lose our physical life, but there is no reason why we should ever lose our spiritual life.  On the contrary, we hope that it will continue to grow and develop all the days of our life on earth, and reach its ideal flowering in heaven. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.  

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