NICODEMUS NICODEMUS A SEEKER Mother Joyce Locht Sunday, March 16, 2014
Nicodemus has been referred to as the Patron Saint of Seekers. Like us, he experienced seeking God and missing the threads of God’s grace around him. Where are the threads of grace in your life and in my life? How can we prevent breaking these threads? Nicodemus belonged to the Pharisees – a group of esteemed leaders of the Jewish community dedicated to seeking out God’s ways, obedience and especially to avoiding God’s condemnation. To the Pharisees, The Law was the most sacred thing in all the world. The Law was composed of the first five books of what we know as the Old Testament. Over generations, Jewish scribes took the principles of the Law and interpreted and translated these principles into thousands of highly specific laws. Nicodemus was an expert in the Law, studying its every minutia. This was part of Nicodemus’ spiritual seeking. We are more likely to have studied self-help books, psychology, philosophy and explored various teachers who promise to give the Secret Code or at least cutting edge information that will guide us into living meaningful and happy lives. But what about the threads of Grace that God weaves into our lives? How do we remain in awareness of this Grace and how do we remain connected to it? These fine threads bind us up with God and bind us up together in community and love. Nicodemus, then, a seeker, went to question Jesus and received this reply: “No can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” And then we have Nicodemus’ skeptical response: “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus acknowledges the difference between flesh and spirit, but points to the necessity of a spiritual rebirth to participate in the kingdom of God. “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. You must be born from above.” Just as physical life was given to us, so too the Spirit gives us spiritual life. The life of the Spirit comes in the form of trust, belief and hope in God. The Spirit works continuously inviting us into the embrace of God’s eternal love and into the life of God’s kingdom. I imagine most of us have had the experience of walking into a spider web that was invisible to us. We did not see it, but feel its fine thread as we walk into it. In our seeking, we may not perceive or understand Jesus’ declaration that you and I need to be reborn from above or we may not see or understand the grace woven into our lives.
Lent is a good time for us to notice the grace by which God sustains us and transforms us. We have been drawn here together as a community by grace to share in the mystery of the Eucharist. What can we do this week to keep this thread of grace from breaking? We can’t force Grace to appear before our eyes, but with eyes and hearts reborn from above we will awaken to see God’s grace and to cherish these gifts. Finally, what stance or posture can we assume that will lead us to be more open to Grace? I will suggest a few methods that may help us see and keep us open to grace: 1) Daily - to set aside a time for silence. It need be only 5 min. It is simply a matter of showing up, slowing down and recalling that God is always present to us. Nothing more. For a mother of a baby or small children, it may be to take some deep breaths while praying “Lord Jesus have mercy.” 2) To strive to live in the present moment with awareness. In this moment, I am here; In this moment, God is here. What does God wish for me in this moment? 3) In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Forgive us as we forgive others.” To act on this is to keep from breaking the thread of grace. Taking it a step further – it is difficult, but when I am tempted to judge another person, take a moment to place myself in solidarity with the one who stands in judgment. There are of course many, many ways to help us to open ourselves to Grace and to keep from breaking the thread. We might ask one another: “What do you do to open yourself to the grace of the Spirit?” “What do you practice to keep the thread of grace from breaking?” Imagine what we might learn from one another! Imagine the spiritual growth we might see! Imagine the community that would flourish! May we be new reborn people who celebrate the paschal mystery.