Fourth Sunday of Lent – Sister Angele Lewis, SNDdeN

Mar 6, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

March 10, 2024

 

John 3: 14-21

The conversation with Nicodemus

This 4th Sunday of Lent provides us with a glimpse of God’s abundant Goodness to each of us. As always, Jesus greets Nicodemus with loving kindness, respect, and encouragement (synodal). It is not by chance that “The conversation with Nicodemus” was selected for today. Formerly, this Sunday in Lent was called Laetare – Rejoice Lent is half over and you still have time to “Repent and believe the good news.”

Today, we will be focusing on Jesus’ communication style (synodal) and “the who” who gives the “gift and growth” in faith. John’s gospel, the last to be written, offers the community’s experience of “learning to live in the light” rather than in “darkness.” It is like Moses’ Farewell Speech to the Israelites: “See I set before you today life and prosperity, or death and destruction… (Deuteronomy 30:15). God demonstrates great love for us by giving the Son to be lifted on the cross and then raised to eternal Life and glory. We demonstrate our great love for God by doing the work of God – dying and rising, conforming ourselves so completely to Christ that we cooperate in his very work of salvation.

Nicodemus, a wealthy Pharisee, and member of the Sanhedrin would have known Moses’ farewell speech comes to Jesus at night! Pharisees had answers and rules for every aspect of living as a proper Jew! It is easy to understand that he might be curious (is Jesus the Messiah?) yet cautious of giving scandal.

Nicodemus believes that Jesus comes from God. He begins his quest for “understanding” by stating: “RABBI, WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE COME FROM GOD AS A TEACHER; FOR NO ONE COULD PERFORM THE SIGNS THAT YOU DO UNLESS GOD WERE WITH HIM.” (Jn. 3:1-2) Jesus affirms his statement: “In all truth I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (Jn. 3:3).

Nicodemus continues to engage Jesus with this line of questioning: “How can anyone who is already old be born? Is it possible to go back into the womb again and be born?” (Jn. 3:4) And Jesus replied: “… Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above.” (Jn. 3:7)

I imagine Nicodemus’ response to Jesus reflects his impatience at the way this conversation is going: “HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?” And to this question Jesus respectfully replies: “You are the Teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things.”

  • What thoughts and feelings might Nicodemus be experiencing?
  • Have you ever found that your “heart knows” before your “head knows?”

Their conversation continues for quite a while longer. Jesus engages and reviews with Nicodemus what he already knows (or thinks he knows). Faith is a gift from God, and we grow in faith by doing the works Jesus does. The more we grow and do the works Jesus does, the more we live in the light and recognize the kingdom. Does Nicodemus finally become a public or stay a secret follower of Jesus?

The “Born Again” theme seems a real obstacle. Yet John’s gospel mentions Nicodemus two more times: Nicodemus defends Jesus within the Sanhedrin (7:45-52), and Joseph of Arimathea (another secret disciple of Jesus) gets the permission to remove and bury the body of Jesus from Pilate and Nicodemus brings Myrrh, aloes and linen cloths for the burial (19:38-42).

 

 

John 3: 14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son. On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed; but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord

 

 

Meet Sister Angele Lewis, SNDdeN

Angele Lewis has been a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) for over 52 years. In 1972 she entered the California Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame. She was sent the following year to Ipswich, MA for her canonical novitiate. In 1974, Sr. Angele was missioned to Notre Dame High School, Belmont and to St. Charles Convent, San Carlos, CA for her second year Novitiate (ministry year). She made First and Final Vows in the Chapel at the College of Notre Dame, Belmont (now Notre Dame de Namur University). Her years at Belmont confirmed for Sr. Angele that she is a teacher at heart. She taught for over 25 years in Notre Dame elementary and high schools and in local parish education programs on the West and East coasts of the United States. She also spent over 5 years providing graphic arts, design and typesetting services for non-profit agencies and for the International Communications Office of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.