Tuesday in the Second Week of Easter

Scripture Readings: Acts 4:32-37; Jn 3:7b-15

“The community was of one heart and mind…they had everything in common.” “So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Given the self-centeredness of Original Sin, this freedom from the bondage of self is truly as strange as where the wind comes from and where it goes. With Nicodemus we wonder, “How can this happen?”

“How” it happens is by the power of the Spirit. “Where” it happens is important for us. It happens in community. That’s where the two great love commandments are kept. That is where conscience is developed. Character is formed by a story and a community that lives out that story. The story is engaging and the community is compatible; they are the means. But the Spirit is the power that makes it happen.

A community like this is not a mere herd like sports fans, nor is it gathered in fear like refugees. Nor is such a community a society like the one the members come from. Societies are organized around contracts to meet self-interests. Underlying the society is a distrust of the other whose interests may not be sharable. Their interests are material or sensual.

The community described in Acts is united by a common feeling, a common love for what it is centered upon. An image for it is a wagon wheel. The spokes are the members. They are closest together when they are at the center. When they move away from the center toward the rim, they become farther apart. Personalities are put before principles; the private good comes before the common good; self-needs come before the story that unites the community.

It is the Spirit that gives the power to put principles before personality; to stay gathered around the center. The Spirit, though, must be co-experienced, i.e. experienced with one another. If that co-experience is not recognized and preferred as criteria for membership, then some will be singled-out and marginalized. It is shared experiencing that unites a community. Our sense of call before we entered, our prayer together, our eating together are shared experiences. It is important –it makes a difference- to take them seriously. The singular shared experience that makes us a Christian community is looking at the Son of Man when He is lifted up…and believing.     

 

Tuesday in the Second Week of Easter

[Scripture Readings: Acts 4:32-37; Jn 3:7-15]

Jesus and Nicodemus A young man who was drinking heavily went for a swim at a California beach. Fortunately, an older man was watching and saw the young man get caught in an undercurrent. He dove in and saved the boy's life.

Not long afterwards, that same young man was standing in court facing a sentence on drug charges. Suddenly, he realized that the Judge was the very same man who saved his life when he was drowning. He said, “Sir, do you recognize me? You saved my life.” The Judge nodded his head and said, “Young man, then I was your savior, but now I am your judge.”

For Nicodemus who came secretly by night, Jesus was first his Judge, telling him, “You do not believe.” But in the end, after the Crucifixion, Jesus was his Savior whose body Nicodemus openly and lovingly prepared for burial with spices and linen cloths. For those who believe and love, Jesus Crucified is their Savior. For those who do not believe or love, Jesus Crucified is their Judge.