Now that Jesus’ credentials have been established by His rising from the dead, the church re-introduces us to some elements of His teaching, a second time around, on the supposition that we’ll appreciate them better this time (during the eastern season). This seems to be the tenor of some of the biblical readings she presents us during this post-resurrection time, which, for the neophytes, just introduced to the church at the Easter Vigil, is called a period of mystagogy during which a deeper examination of the gospels is pursued.
So we join poor Nicodemus in the gospel account today as we struggle to grasp the tenor of Jesus’ remarks about being born again-apparently into a reality where the wind blows-a wind descriptive of the Holy Spirit Who can instruct us about Jesus’ identity as the Son of Man (twice mentioned here), especially established by His being lifted up (on the cross). We’re duly instructed in all of this now.
This time around, Nicodemus (and we) may begin to get the idea Jesus is presenting about Himself. We’re born again into a new level of understanding/mystagogy, and are now equipped to begin living a life like that described in the Acts of the Apostles today, a communal life of sharing, explicitly described here as their way of giving witness to the Resurrection. Who knows? Perhaps by this time Nicodemus had made his transition into this new Christian community, and was one of those sharing their possessions among those who had need.
If so, Nicodemus would have finally gotten Jesus’ message about being born again, and being sensitive to the blowing of the wind. At this point, recognition of Jesus as Son of Man would have come spontaneously to him and his fellow-Christians in that early community. This is the title by which Jesus wishes us to know Him.
Fr. Sebastian MacDonald, C.P. is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.