Today’s Gospel is from the beginning of John’s Gospel. The passage we read follows Jesus’ conversation with a Pharisee, Nicodemus, about what it means to be born of both water and the spirit. Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night and acknowledges Jesus as a teacher from God. Jesus tells him that only those who are born from above will see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus misunderstands and questions how a person can be born more than once. Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. Jesus is essentially explaining Baptism, which we celebrate as a sacrament today. Yet Nicodemus, we are told, still does not understand what Jesus is saying. Jesus continues by testifying to the need to be born from above so that one might have eternal life.
After the dialogue with Nicodemus, the author of the Gospel offers his own explanation of Jesus’ words. This is what we read in today’s Gospel, John 3:16-18.
In the context of today’s focus on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the reading calls our attention to the action of God, who reveals himself in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God the Father, out of love for the world, sent his Son into the world in order to save it. Through the death and resurrection of the Son, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. As three persons, God acts always as a God of love; he does not condemn the world but acts to save it.
The Gospel also calls attention to the response that is required of us. God’s love for us calls us to respond in faith by professing our belief in God’s son, Jesus, and the salvation that he has won for us. This profession of faith is a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.