Homily By Bishop Ambo David / MONDAY, SECOND WEEK OF EASTER , Jn 3:1-8
Nicodemus was what you might call today a “closet disciple.” He was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin Council, meaning a person with a high stature and good reputation in the Jewish society. He happened to be a secret admirer Jesus and wanted to be his disciple but did not want it to be known publicly. Perhaps he was afraid that he might be ridiculed for following a carpenter from Nazareth. That is why he came to visit Jesus in the dead of night.
That is also why Jesus speaks cryptically to him in today’s Gospel about being “reborn.” He wanted to be part of the kingdom of God, but he avoided the risk that went with it. He couldn’t come out of the comfort zone of his high stature and good reputation in society.
There is a nice little parable that drives home precisely this point. It is entitled “LIFE AFTER DELIVERY”. It says,
“In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”
The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”
The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”
The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”
The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery, there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”
The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”
The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her, this world would not and could not exist.”
Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”
To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”
Maybe this was one of the best explanations of the concept of GOD.
Why does Jesus use the image of rebirthing? Can a child discover what life is truly about if it refuses to leave its mother’s womb?
But what a painful experience it must be for a child to leave the comfort of the womb. If it were only possible for the child to describe the experience of birthing, it would probably say: “I didn’t know what was going on. I was peacefully swimming in my mother’s womb when, one day, the womb started to run out of water. I just felt like I was being strangled and pressed and squeezed out. I held on for dear life in panic, but I found myself eventually letting go and sliding out of a dark tunnel. I could see nothing but a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. And i could hear a voice saying, “It’s ok anak, come out now and I will catch you.” As soon as i got out there was a pair of hands waiting outside that grabbed me by the feet, slapped my buttocks, and shouted excitedly, “It’s a boy!!” My God, and I thought I had died, only to discover that I had just been born!”
I imagine death to be some kind of a repetition of this traumatic experience of birthing. There is no need to be afraid. There is someone out there waiting to catch us, to cut the spiritual umbilical cord that attaches us to the world, to teach us how to breathe and live in the new and greater life that awaits us out there.
Resurrection comes as an invitation. To the paralytic, Jesus said, “Stand up and pick up your mat!” To Zaccheus, he said, “Come down!” Just as Jesus cried out to Lazarus, “Come out!” in order to raise him from the dead, in a roundabout way he is also saying the same thing in today’s Gospel: Come out, Nicodemus!