The story of Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus is one of my favourite gospel stories. I can identify with Nicodemus in so many ways. Like him I first started asking faith questions under the cover of darkness. Like Nicodemus I would have preferred a world of certainties where things fit together in a neat and tidy and clearly understandable way. But that is not how faith works, for as we say in the Eucharistic prayer: ‘great is the mystery of faith.’
The Trinity is in some ways our greatest mystery, but it is also our greatest source of freedom and liberation. We need, as contemporary Christians, to make sure that the trinity is central to how we think, pray, and undertake various aspects of mission. We need like Nicodemus to allow ourselves to renewed, reborn even, by and in the Spirit.
Being reborn, or renewed, by the Spirit sounds, at least initially, to be a somewhat strange concept, so let me ask you to reflect on a question posed by Jean Vanier: ‘Isn’t this desire to be born again in many of us? Don’t we often want to start anew, to leave behind past hurts, habits and old ways that imprison us in the values of our society and prevent us from growing towards greater freedom.’
If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we like Nicodemus, will grow and change for the better. If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit we will grow, like Nicodemus, who we next encounter post resurrection, in fascination, intimacy and friendship with Jesus. If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, again like Nicodemus, and I guess like me, we begin to become the sort of people whose faith moves from the cover of darkness into the glorious light of day. If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit in us we begin to understand that God the Father really is the source of our very being and that we were literally loved into life, and that we will be loved into, through and beyond death. We will also grow in our appreciation of, and care for, the environment or created order.
Nicodemus can, maybe should, be for us a role model for what it means to grow in faith towards an unshakeable trust in God as creator, redeemer and sustainer.
This Trinity season my invitation, or encouragement, is that you allow yourself to be renewed, refreshed, or even reborn, through the anointing and blessing of the Holy Spirit, so that you keep ‘growing towards greater freedom,’ Amen.