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Nicodemus’ search for the “Soul of Theology”

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 18, 2012

The readings for this Sunday are: 2 Chronicles 36:14-17a, 19-23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21
For use with RCIA: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

The Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year B) features a nocturnal conversation between two important religious teachers: on the one hand a notable “teacher of Israel” named Nicodemus, and on the other, Jesus whom this Nicodemus calls a “teacher from God.”

Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. His prominent role and position in the national cabinet called the Sanhedrin made him the custodian of a great tradition. He was expected by many to be a national expert on God!

It is important to provide some background for the Gospel passage for this Sunday. The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is one of the most significant dialogues of the New Testament and his coming to Jesus secretly at night suggests the darkness of unbelief. The whole visit and conversation are shrouded in ambiguity and the Johannine penchant for strong contrasts such as darkness and light can be seen in this highly symbolic story. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus of the need to experience the presence of God and offer oneself to him.

Knowing God is much more than a gathering of theological information and data about him. In speaking about being born again from above, Jesus does not mean that one must reenter the mother’s womb for a second time; but Jesus refers to a rebirth, which the Spirit of God makes possible. [Read more…]