Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,
Welcome to Catholic Mass Readings and Catholic Reflections Daily in Biblemsg.com. We are on the April 17, 2023 in the 2nd Week of Easter. Today’s Mass readings Acts 4:23-31; Jn 3:1-8.
Table of Contents
Readings of the Day
23 After their release they went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. 24 And when they heard it, they raised their voices to God with one accord and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, 25 you said by the holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant:
‘Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.’
27 Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do what your hand and [your] will had long ago planned to take place. 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30 as you stretch forth [your] hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Ps 2:1-3, 4-7a, 7b-9
Response: (see 11d) Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Powerful Catholic Reflections for Today
1. The risen Lord causes new birth and gives new life to those open and receptive. In the gospel, Nicodemus is one such example of openness. He was a Pharisee and a ruler of Jews. Already we can draw an indicator from this.
2. There are also some good people among the Pharisees and authorities. We need not categorise people or be carried away by labels. Goodness or badness does not necessarily depend on categories. Rather it depends on the openness to truth and humility to see and accept.
3. Nicodemus goes to Jesus at night and this indicates his spirit of the search for truth. Already there were some essentials of faith in Jesus: he acknowledges Jesus as a teacher who has come from God. He sees the signs as due to God’s being with him.
4. He makes a transition from imperfect to perfect faith. He is led to authentic faith. He is enabled to see above the merely physical, human and earthly realm to the divine, spiritual and heavenly realm.
5. This is testified in Jesus’ words: “Unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom”. “Unless one is born of water and Spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom”. The Spirit is signified by “wind” and it is free and unconditioned because “the wind blows where it wills”.
6. Though we cannot see visibly, the presence, power and effect of the Spirit are felt and experienced. Thereby we are reminded that we shall not merely go by sense perceptions. God’s action is invisible but effective.
7. It is the Spirit that causes regeneration and rebirth. Now what will be the effects of rebirth? One who is reborn will rise above the earthly realm and operate in the spiritual realm. He will act freely and unconditioned.
8. These are the same effects concretely operative in the case of Peter and John and the other Apostles in the first reading. They are filled with the spirit of prayer. They are filled with the Holy Spirit. They are filled with boldness. They spoke the word of God passionately. They bore witness to the Lord undauntedly. What is further remarkable is: they prayed amidst difficulties, but not to remove them; rather face them with boldness.