Thank you for joining the Good Shepherd Live Mass for Tuesday 4/13/2021

Going Deeper – Gospel Reflections

Readings for Tuesday 4/13/2021

Reading I

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas
(which is translated son of encouragement”),
a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
sold a piece of property that he owned,
then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.

Responsorial Psalm

R.    (1a)  The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R.    The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
And he has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O LORD.
R.    The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed:
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, for length of days.
R.    The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man must be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him
may have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
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 answered and said to him,
‘How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

The Last Gospel

John 1:1-14

In the beginning* was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

A “Holy Push”

Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.” John 3:9–11

As we reflected upon yesterday, Nicodemus is one of the only Pharisees who ultimately converted, became a follower of Jesus, and is today considered a saint. The only other Pharisees who were recorded by name as converts to Christianity were Saint Paul and Gamaliel. Acts 15:5 also indicates that some other Pharisees ultimately converted.

When the many encounters between Jesus and the Pharisees are considered as a whole, it’s clear that there was great resistance among them toward Jesus and His teaching. They were constantly seeking to trap Him and, of course, ultimately were responsible for His death, along with other leading religious leaders from the Sanhedrin. For that reason, it’s easy to understand that there must have been great pressure upon all the Pharisees to reject Jesus. Each one of them would have felt the power of peer pressure to act in accord with the general view of Jesus’ condemnation. This is the context of this passage above in which Nicodemus questions Jesus. This passage continues yesterday’s Gospel conversation in which Jesus says clearly to Nicodemus that the way to Heaven is to be “born from above.” Nicodemus questions how one can “be born again,” and then Jesus issues this apparent criticism of Him quoted above.

It’s helpful to understand that Jesus’ criticism was not a condemnation of Nicodemus. It was not in the tone of His normal “Woe to you…” statements; rather, it was a gentle but very direct challenge to Nicodemus so as to move him from his questions to faith. And that’s the key. Nicodemus did not come to Jesus to trap and condemn Him like the other Pharisees did. Nicodemus came because he was confused. And most likely, he was confused because he felt great peer pressure from his fellow Pharisees to condemn Jesus.

Understanding this context should help us understand not only the goodness and courage of Nicodemus but also the loving boldness of Jesus. Jesus knew that Nicodemus was open. He knew that Nicodemus could be won over. But Jesus also knew that Nicodemus needed to be challenged in a direct and firm way. He needed a bit of a “holy push” so as to enter into the gift of faith. Of course, Jesus’ challenge ultimately won Nicodemus over.

Reflect, today, upon any way in which you, too, need a “holy push” from our Lord. What form of worldly pressure do you experience in life? Do friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers impose upon you in some way a peer pressure that is contrary to the life of true holiness? If so, ponder the ultimate courage of Nicodemus, Saint Paul and Gamaliel. Let their witness inspire you and allow our Lord to challenge you where you need it the most so that you, too, will receive the “holy push” that you need to be a more faithful follower of Jesus.

My Lord of all strength, You are unwavering in Your determination to challenge me in the area that I need it the most. Help me to receive your gentle rebukes of love when I am weak so that I will have the courage and strength I need to be a faithful follower of You. Give me clarity and understanding, dear Lord, and help me to overcome the misleading pressures of the world. Jesus, I trust in You.

Source of content: mycatholic.life