April 20, 2020
The following reflection on today’s Gospel reading (John 3:1-8) is written by Bishop Robert Barron.
Friends, today in this inexhaustibly rich conversation with Nicodemus in the Gospel, Jesus tells the Israelite elder: “Unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
He is speaking with great directness here about metanoia, about the change of attitude required before one is capable of living in the energy of the Incarnation. Jesus senses that Nicodemus, the great “teacher of Israel,” is caught in the net of ego concerns, still clinging fearfully to his power and status, still exulting in his grasp of the religious traditions of his people.
And Jesus’ concerns are confirmed by the almost comic rationalism of Nicodemus’ response to his invitation to rebirth: “How can a grown man be born? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” While Jesus speaks the evocative and analogical language of the soul, Nicodemus hears with the ears of the ego, the rational power that wishes to know clearly and control.
It is precisely that fearful rationalism which Nicodemus must abandon in the painful process of rebirth and reconfiguration of the soul.