During Lent we journey with all those around the world who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. In today’s gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of water and Spirit. At the font we are a given a new birth as children of God. As God made a covenant with Abraham, in baptism God promises to raise us up with Christ to new life. From worship we are sent forth to proclaim God’s love for all the world.
Readings and Psalm
The blessing of God upon Abram
I lift up my eyes to the hills; my help comes from the Lord. (Ps. 121:1, 2)
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
The promise to those who share Abraham’s faith
The mission of Christ: to save the world
First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4a
God’s call of
Abram and Sarai has a clear purpose—that through them all the families
of the earth would gain a blessing. As they set out on their journey,
they are accompanied by promises of land, nation, and a great
reputation.1The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I
will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will
curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4aSo Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.
Psalm: Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills; my help comes from the Lord. (Ps. 121:1, 2)1I lift up my eyes | to the hills;
from where is my | help to come?
2My help comes | from the Lord,
the maker of heav- | en and earth.
3The Lord will not let your | foot be moved
nor will the one who watches over you | fall asleep.
4Behold, the keep- | er of Israel
will neither slum- | ber nor sleep;
5the Lord watches | over you;
the Lord is your shade at | your right hand;
6the sun will not strike | you by day,
nor the | moon by night.
7The Lord will preserve you | from all evil
and will | keep your life.
8The Lord will watch over your going out and your | coming in,
from this time forth for- | evermore.
Second Reading: Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
In the person
and example of Abraham we discover that a right relationship with God
does not involve earning a reward from God but entails trusting God’s
promises. Abraham is the forebear and model for both Jews and Gentiles,
because we too trust that ours is a God who gives life to the dead.1What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
13For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
Gospel: John 3:1-17
Pharisee visits Jesus by night to learn from the teacher his friends
reject. Jesus speaks to him about life in the Spirit and the kingdom of
God.1Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He
came to Jesus by 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 do
apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus
said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one
enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The
wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do
not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone
who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”