Sunday, April 19, 2009

Questions in the Dark

First Reading: Acts 4:23-31
Psalm: Ps 2:1-9
Gospel: Jn 3:1-8


In today's gospel, we meet Nicodemus, a Pharisee and possibly a member of the council. He acknowledges Jesus as a man of God and has many questions, but does not understand Jesus' teaching.

The opening of the reading, with Nicodemus confiding in Jesus what is known of him in the Sanhedrin, particularly struck me today:
He came to Jesus at 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 are doing unless God is with him." - John 3:2
This is a very important statement, because we hear an echo of it later in John's gospel, in the story of the man born blind:
[The Pharisees] ridiculed him and said, "You are that man's disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from." - John 9:28-29
Later, Nicodemus counsels that Jewish law should not condemn Jesus before it gives Him a chance to speak and determine the truth; he is ridiculed for this defense of Jesus.

In our lives, are we like pharisees, condemning others before we have heard their testimony? Or are we like Nicodemus, defending those who are being easily dismissed and seeking truth? Jesus does not condemn Nicodemus for coming to him in secret. He answers the questions posed to Him and lets Nicodemus make his own decision. When others approach us as Christians to ask questions or pose concerns about the faith, do we answer their questions, or do we dismiss their viewpoints without a serious thought? In imitating Christ, we must remember to not condemn, but to teach.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of this day. We pray that we might be faithful witnesses to Your goodness. Grant that we might approach others that hold differing viewpoints with Your love. Help us to teach them the truth and let Your Spirit work within them, that they might be blessed by the Truth. We pray especially for those who attack our Christian faith, that their fears and injuries be healed, according to Thy will. We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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