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Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by 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 do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, 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 came to Jesus by night.
We all have ‘guilty secrets’: those secrets we would prefer others not to know about. Those secrets that may be evidence of ‘real’ guilt, or evidence of self-indulgence and greed, or evidence of our predilection for some sort of secret vice. Such ‘guilty secrets’ are often inconsequential, but they remain ‘secret’ for all that.
In today’s reading we hear of Nicodemus’ guilty secret. He wanted to know more about Jesus, but he was afraid of the attitudes and opinions of others should his secret become public knowledge. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, one of the religious elite who led the campaign that would ultimately lead Jesus to his crucifixion. For Nicodemus’ secret to become known within his community would lead to his exclusion and persecution, and possibly even to his death. But … Nicodemus wanted to know.
In their conversation, as it is recorded in John’s gospel, we read of Jesus explaining the need for re-birth to the confused Pharisee. We know that Nicodemus will be re-born in faith, even to the point of tending the broken body of Christ after the crucifixion, but what about his coming to Jesus by night?
Jesus teaches his followers to proclaim the Good News to all. Such proclamation cannot be done effectively under the cover of darkness. As we read in the Sermon on the Mount: let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. If we are to accept Jesus’ challenge to live the life of true faith we must step out into the light and shine with the Good News.
Too often we skulk in the twilight, or even the darkness … even when it comes to matters of faith. Today we are being challenged to stand firm in the full light of day as we accept Jesus’ call to proclaim the Gospel message to all we meet as we journey through this life.
Let us pray for the strength of the Spirit to guide and inspire us as we emerge from the shadows of those ‘guilty secrets’ and take pride in the faith which sustains us as we shine the light of Christ into the darkness which encloses and imprisons others.