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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 3,7-15

Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above.

The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

'How is that possible?' asked Nicodemus.

Jesus replied, 'You are the Teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things!

'In all truth I tell you, we speak only about what we know and witness only to what we have seen and yet you people reject our evidence.

If you do not believe me when I speak to you about earthly things, how will you believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?

No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of man;

as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up

so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord continues his dialogue with Nicodemus, the beginning of which we heard yesterday. The central point of Jesus’ dialogue is at the heart of Johannine theology: the gift of eternal life for whoever believes in Jesus. In general, each one of us believes instinctively only in ourselves and in our own convictions. But Nicodemus stands before us today as a true disciple. Although he was a leader in Israel, he humbly recognized that he was not able to know which the true path was for him. Jesus points this out to him with irony: "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?" The wisdom of this world is the fruit of an often-pessimistic realism. It does not know how to look past that which already exists and often does not know anything else other than the delusions or failures of which human life is full. For Jesus, it is different. He claims that his testimony is born from God’s expansive vision, which, from heaven, embraces and loves all of humanity. Learning how to see with this vision is one of the fruits of the Spirit about which the Lord talks to Nicodemus. It seems to him, as it does to us, that he cannot grasp from where this way of thinking - so different from that of the world - comes and to where it may take us. One thing, however, seems clear: this new vision surely leads us far away from ourselves and from the false ways of the world. Entrusting oneself to this new way of seeing and feeling is the advice that Jesus offers to Nicodemus, who had turned to him out of faith. And his was not a blind faith. Jesus, for his part, also does not fail to point out to him an event that will be a sign for which he ought to look out: "so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.*" The cross, with its weight of love lived out with a tenacity far greater than death, is the concrete foundation on which Jesus proposes to Nicodemus and to us all to be reborn. By drawing ourselves under the cross nearer to him we will be able to understand the greatness of that love that compelled him to embrace death so as to save us from evil and to give us a life without end.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord