In our Gospel reading this Sunday, we hear the story of Nicodemus (John 3:1-17).
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?"
I sympathize with Nicodemus in this Gospel reading. He is asking honest questions about the spiritual life. And he is getting honest answers from the Son of God. Perhaps not the easiest conversation to have.
The season of Lent is here, and most of us try to ask some deeper spiritual (and practical) questions about where we are in life, about where we are in our relationship to God, about where we are in relationship to one another. I recently sat down with a friend and mentor to ask some of my own questions, and to try to be ready to hear some of his answers. It isn't always easy. In fact, growth and progress in our lives is only made when we are prepared to hear the deeper truths. I am often asked what I am doing for Lent. And my answer this year is an attempt to listen deeper to the people around me. To listen to the truths that are around us, to the Truth that is within us, by virtue of our baptism. My Lenten journey this year is to listen, even when the truth is hard to hear, confusing to hear.
The Sunday Gospel concludes with the famous and beloved words of Jesus:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
And the good news this Lent, and always, is that our belief, no matter how challenging life can be, will give us ears to listen, and ears to hear. And what we will hear is not condemnation, but a path that leads us deeper into the love of God and one another.
Yours faithfully in Christ,