Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
We think that we “know” about Jesus already. Nicodemus began his conversation with Jesus in yesterday’s Gospel by saying, “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” (Jn 3:2). Nicodemus’ statement, as regards Jesus, was true, but it was so at a much more profound level than Nicodemus could have imagined. Nicodemus “knew,” but he did not know even the half of it.
What can we know about God? After all, “no one has ever seen God” (Jn 1:18a). And yet, “the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (Jn 1:18b). The Son truly knows the Father, and in the Son, the Father is truly known. Only through the Son can the Father be known in this fullness. “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man” (Jn 3:13; cf. Jn 14:9). God speaks to us because he wants to be known by us. Even though that knowledge will always surpass us, God enables us to truly know him in Christ. But the Word that is Christ cannot be reduced to mere words: it is life, fully revealed in Christ’s life. This is what Jesus reminds us in the final verses of today’s Gospel. Recalling God’s command to Moses to set before the Israelites a serpent on a pole for them to contemplate (Nm 21), Jesus indicates that he himself will be the one who will be lifted up on a pole for us to contemplate so that we might not only be healed but have eternal life. We should resist the temptation to turn our gaze from the cross, even in the resurrection, for “by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5). With gratitude to the risen Lord, let us gaze gratefully at the One who died for us wherever he is raised up for us to contemplate, whether on the crucifix, in the monstrance, or in the sufferings of the least of our brethren.