In John’s Gospel, the evangelist has (already before Lent) walked us through the story of the Wedding at Cana. Jesus, at a nudge from his mother Mary, interacted with the servers who followed his directions to fill the empty stone jar with water. Only to be mystified when the water turns into the best wine in the house. Now, John is the only evangelist who relates this story. And, he is exact in some details: there were six jars, each 2-3 feet tall, each holding 9-10 gallons. That’s approximately 55 gallons of wine – making for quite a wedding!
Last Sunday, we witnessed an interaction of a different sort. Jesus calls a halt to the desecration of His father’s house, the temple in Jerusalem. Today’s Gospel takes a leap that skips over an interaction that sets up today’s teaching. In that gap, we hear about the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus who came to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Nicodemus was struggling with some big questions. As he said to Jesus: “I know you came from God. Maybe you can share some light on my quandary.” Seems like they must have talked well into the night.
Puzzled by what Jesus had said, Nicodemus questions how an old man can be born again??? Jesus cautions him: “Don’t be amazed that I told you, ‘you must be born from above.’” Here comes a sentence that I love: “The wind blows where it wills, you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” [Like Benedict said, “Listen with the ear of your heart.”] Reminds me of a 70s folk song: “Blowin’ in the Wind” – “How many times must we look up before we can see the sky? How many ears must we have before we can hear people cry? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”
I digress from the Gospel. Or do I? John says in today’s reading: “In all truth I tell you, we speak only about what we know and witness, what we have seen and heard. And yet people reject our evidence. If you do not believe me when I speak to you about earthly things, how will you believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?”
Keep reading… Jesus speaks through the mouth of John, reminding us of our history. Remember the story in the Book of Numbers, when the people were in the desert and they complained against God and Moses. God sent poisonous serpents as punishment. But, when the people repented, God did not leave them without a sign. The people slinked back to Moses, like “a dog with its tail between its legs.” They begged: “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and against you; (They pleaded) please intercede with the Lord, that He will remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Sounds like Moses might have bargained with God. The Lord said to Moses, Here’s the deal: “Make a fiery serpent, and put it on a flag pole; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, and looks at it, will live.”
Jesus calls Nicodemus’ attention to that story. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent … so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. Then He reminds us: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
Today, I believe, God is telling us: “I did not send COVID-19 to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through my Son.” It’s a wake-up call. “Like I said to the prophet Isaiah yea these many years ago. I am the designer and maker of the earth. Remember in Genesis, at the creation of life on this earth, I looked on all that had been created, and I said: ‘It is good. … For, I am God, there is no other. I will not speak in secret nor from some dark place. I did not say: Look for me in chaos. I promise justice, ‘the public face of love’. I speak the truth. Turn to me and be safe. Say: From God alone comes my strength and safety.’”
God continues speaking to us. “You were correct, when a year ago this week, you posted that sign on the chapel door: we regret that we are TEMPORARILY closed to visitors. All time is temporary in My eyes until you rest in ME eternally. Today I tell you, just as I welcomed a midnight conversation with Nicodemus, I am here – day or night – for you. What’s on your mind or weighing heavy on your heart? Let’s talk.”
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
Next Sunday, March 21 we would normally celebrate the solemnity of St. Benedict, however, since this year, the date falls on and Sunday, we will celebrate St. Benedict on Monday, March 22. Join with us as we honor our wise founder … and let us not overlook his twin sister, Scholastica. Their wise words, and worthy example have influenced our world for over 1500 years! “LISTEN WITH THE EAR OF YOUR HEART. And may Christ lead us all together to everlasting life.”