Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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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. In today’s liturgy, at the beginning of this passage, we hear again the two verses that we heard in yesterday’s reading as if to underline for the life of the disciple the centrality of being reborn from above through the work of the Spirit. And the work of the Spirit is strong, like the wind, but also mysterious, just like the mysterious blowing of the wind: we know neither from where nor to where it blows. The Greek word “pneuma” refers to both the wind and the Spirit of God that inspires the word in the prophets. This double meaning permits the Evangelist to emphasize that the action of the Spirit is “voice”, that is word and announcement, and at the same time “wind”, that is force, movement. From this perspective we touch the heart of the Gospel according to John, the mysterious work of the Spirit that leads us to believe in Jesus and thus leads us to salvation. It is a decisive point of contrast for each of us who are instinctively led to believe only in ourselves, to trust only our own convictions and to follow that which satisfies us. Nicodemus is attentive to the words of the young rabbi. And, amazed, he reveals to Jesus all of his scepticism, even his incredulity: “How can these things be?” Initially, Jesus responds with irony, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” His irony is not condescension; his irony is Jesus’ pedagogy to remove the pride and resignation that close the eyes of the mature and wise Nicodemus and that do not allow him to see clearly the newness of God. We, too, know how much our supposed wisdom is often a sign of our resignation: we cannot believe in the Gospel that asks us to look beyond our usual, presumably fixed horizons, despite the disappointments and failures they cause the length of our entire lives. For Jesus it is not like this. His wisdom is far wider than ours because it is the same as God’s, and God knows how to look upon all of humanity with unbounded love. This is why we have to read the pages of the Gospel often: to have the same eyes as God. The Gospel will open our eyes so we can see ourselves, others, and the world, for the Gospel reminds us of Jesus’ words and his gaze. He says to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” With that, Jesus reveals who it is who is standing before him and why he is talking to Nicodemus in this way: he is the only one who has seen the Father. To belong to Jesus is to belong to the Father who is in heaven. And at this point Jesus responds to Nicodemus’ question about how one can be reborn to a new life. Rebirth in the Spirit happens through the cross, through that unlimited love that leads Jesus to offer his own life to save others and for the Father to raise him from death. And he says to Nicodemus, “So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” The cross, with its load of love lived with a tenacity stronger than death, is the concrete foundation on which Jesus asks us to be reborn. Drawing close to him under the cross we will understand the greatness of the love that made him embrace death to save us from evil and to give us a life that does not end.