It’s not the Saint Nic you’re thinking of . . . even if it is the day before Christmas. Not the one that clambers down chimneys, evaluates the goodness of children and leaves gifts. Nor was this Nic ever made a saint, at least not in the Catholic tradition. I’m speaking rather of Nicodemus, the one made famous by coming to Jesus in the cover of night and eliciting from him the most succinct and abbreviated truth the master had in him.
Oh, that Saint Nic! Yes.
And that Jesus, the one whose name is scrupulously avoided in holiday music in stores even though it’s Christmas! (But that’s another point.)
Here’s this point: Jesus had something to say to all of us and he said it to a representative of highest religious attainment at the time.
Nicodemus was a Jew, a member of the nation to whom God had revealed himself specifically. He was a Pharisee, one of those who sought God most zealously (even over-zealously). He was a leader, sitting on the ruling counsel. And he was Israel’s teacher, so stated Jesus himself. All that seems like the top of the religious ladder. Then add to that his unique humility and openness . . . top of the top.
But Jesus’ response was that he wasn’t there yet and, humanly, never would be. Here’s the famous quote: “You must be born again.”
It was an incredible statement, powerful, used only one time, only by Jesus, and only to one person. But I’m thinking he meant for it to go out from there, which it has. I’m thinking he’s still saying the same to all of us, to everyone.
So, Saint Nic, thanks for representing us and bringing up the subject. My own second birth changed everything, at Christmas, and all other time. I’m forever grateful.
PS Check the full passage, it’s not very long, in John chapter 3, first half.