Archbishop’s Teaching

Third Sunday after Epiphany Jn 3, 1-16 Manifestation of Messiah’s secret to Nicodemus.

Time of the Epiphany
Third Sunday after Epiphany

Homily of His Excellency Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

Jn 3, 1-16
Manifestation of Messiah's secret to Nicodemus.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Gospels are a reinterpretation of events to serve as good news that makes us want to believe in the Jesus whom Nicodemus, like so many others, had the chance to meet.
Each of those who met Jesus was a representative of a whole community. That is why Nicodemus came by night, and this detail is recounted three times in Saint John's Gospel. Many comments have been made about this night, because we encounter it when Judas goes out, after the meal, and "it was dark outside", as in Judas' heart.
But Nicodemus did not want to be recognized by his Pharisee colleagues, many of whom had followed Jesus in secret. Here, night is used to hide from view. But it also symbolizes the ignorance of Nicodemus and his colleagues. And that's why we quickly move from I to WE. As soon as Nicodemus speaks, he will say "WE" know, but in fact, he knew nothing. Moreover, Jesus is going to tell him explicitly: "You're a teacher in Israel and you don't know?
"Truly, truly, I say to you: WE speak of what we know. It is no longer Jesus alone, it is the testimony of the first Johannine community who fought against gnosis, and who had to, at the price of blood, bear witness
to this Jesus who is manifesting himself to the world and who will never confined to our systems of knowledge.
Yes, this is the meaning of the Gospel of this Sunday. We are called by Jesus to contemplate the kingdom of God through baptism. New birth, and birth from above. What Nicodemus does not understand! For in this story, his role is to ask questions, and not to understand. He represents all those Jews who did not believe in Jesus. But Nicodemus, who came at night, will come to the light and follow Jesus to the end, to the cross and the tomb, where he and Joseph of Arimathea will lay Jesus' body to rest.

Lord Jesus, we want to enter your Kingdom now, by opening ourselves to your will for our lives. Bring us out of our night, so that we may follow you to your glorious resurrection.

† Selim Sfeir

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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