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Scripture Reflection - March 10, 2024

Fourth Sunday of Lent

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23    - Ephesians 2:4-10    - John 3:14-20

Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York Scripture Reflection

Scripture is such a gift to us. Sunday readings give us a path that is seasonally focused and includes many parts of the Bible that we might never have seen. With this gift, we have choices. We can come to know about God as Creator, Redeemer, and Source of Life- the Holy Spirit. We can know not just about God, but come to know God in an intimate relationship in our reading. We can read Scripture or we can be transformed by the Word which we hear. We can be one or the other. Or we can be both! We can pass on the message and preach, and we can be the message and preach.

I love entering into the Scripture of John, specifically  today, into the Graced Faith journey of Nicodemus. Not just to know about Nicodemus but to know Nicodemus and some of his experience in his encounter with Jesus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. He was a leader and “teacher of Israel.” For the most part, Nicodemus was surrounded and enmeshed with those who were not only against Jesus but wanted to rid the world of Jesus. Nicodemus was graced with seeing beyond and saying, “no man can perform signs and wonders such as you perform unless God is with him.” Jesus and Nicodemus dialogued. Jesus reminded Nicodemus of Moses lifting up the serpent in the desert. How frightening that must have been! Nicodemus must have been very fearful also. He came in the night. He chose to walk in the light in his ongoing encounter with Jesus. He listened. He let go. Jesus reminded Nicodemus that he could be born again. Indeed, Nicodemus was born again. His transformation was later manifested when we are told that he was at the cross at the time of burial and came with “a mixture of myrrh and aloes which weighed a hundred pounds.”  Nicodemus knew the transforming Word from his graced time with Jesus.

It makes all the difference in the world how we come to God. Do we come before God to be in relationship with God? Do we come as students of the Bible and enter into a practice of Divine Reading or Lectio Divina or the like? Do we come letting our fears and worries fill up our prayer encounter? Do we come with a life that is too busy and too rushed? We can be too rigid in our own thoughts and not give God a chance to touch our lives. We have an opportunity to allow God to speak to our hearts. This may sound strange, but we need practice. Centering prayer practice and mindfulness and silence gives to God our intention and consent to “let go and let God.” Letting go of worries, thoughts, and feelings during prayer time, as did Nicodemus, allows us to be prepared for a truer encounter with God. We can let the Spirit of God speak to us and transform us. Granted, there are myriad ways of praying. The question is, are we being transformed?

For Lent, with the great motivation that it gives us, maybe we can include the usual reading with a graced and silent reading. Being with others often makes this deeper. Nicodemus took the chance. It can make all the difference when we are discouraged, anxious, or angry. God is offering peace, hope, and courage. With such prayer practices that have our intention and consent, we can be transformed as we allow God’s love and action into our lives. This is not only for our sake but for the sake of our very polarized country and war-torn world. Nicodemus tells us that a deep encounter with God makes the difference.

Sr. Jo-Anne Faillace, OP


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