Today is the feast of Sts. Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus:
1. Hierosolymae, commemoratio sanctorum Ioseph de Arimathaea et Nicodemi, qui corpus Iesu a cruce depositum acceperunt, involverunt in sindone et posuerunt in monumento. Ioseph, nobilis decurio et discipulus Domini, regnum Dei expectabat; Nicodemus autem, ex Pharisaeis, princeps Iudaeorum, ad Iesum nocte venerat interrogans de missione eius atque coram pontificibus et Pharisaeis, qui volebant Iesum apprehendere, causam eius defendit. .. At Jerusalem, the commemoration of Saints Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus, who received the Body of Jesus once taken down from the Cross, wrapped it in a burial shroud and placed it in the tomb. Joseph, a noble decurion (member of the senate of a Roman colony) and disciple of the Lord was awating the kingdom of God; Nicodemus, on the other hand, of the Pharisees and a leader of the Jews, went to Jesus in the night asking Him about His mission and, in the presence of the priests and Pharisees who wanted to arrest Jesus, defended His case.
The Bishop of Hippo speaks about Nicodemus in one of his Tractates on the Gospel of John 11. He has a fascinating riff into Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:
6. This Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night, did not savor of this spirit and this life. Saith Jesus to him, "Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God." And he, savoring of his own flesh, while as yet he savored not of the flesh of Christ in his mouth, saith, "How can a man be born a second time, when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?" This man knew but one birth, that from Adam and Eve; that which is from God and the Church he knew not yet: he knew only those parents that bring forth to death, knew not yet the parents that bring forth to life; he knew but the parents that bring forth successors, knew not yet the ever-living parents that bring forth those that shall abide.
Whilst there are two births, then, he understood only one. One is of the earth, the other of heaven; one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit; one of mortality, the other of eternity; one of male and female, the other of God and the Church. But these two are each single; there can be no repeating the one or the other. Rightly did Nicodemus understand the birth of the flesh; so understand thou also the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus understood the birth of the flesh. What did Nicodemus understand? "Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?" Thus, whosoever shall tell thee to be spiritually born a second time, answer in the words of Nicodemus, "Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?" I am already born of Adam, Adam cannot beget me a second time. I am already born of Christ, Christ cannot beget me again. As there is no repeating from the womb, so neither from baptism.
7. He that is born of the Catholic Church, is born, as it were, of Sarah, of the free woman; he that is born of heresy is, as it were, born of the bond woman, but of Abraham’s seed. Consider, beloved, how great a mystery. God testifies, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Were there not other patriarchs? Before these, was there not holy Noah, who alone of the whole human race, with all his house, was worthy to be delivered from the flood,–he in whom, and in his sons, the Church was prefigured? Borne by wood, they escaped the flood. Then afterwards great men whom we know, whom Holy Scriptures commends, Moses faithful in all his house. And yet those three are named, just as if they alone deserved well of him: "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this is my name for ever." Sublime mystery! It is the Lord that is able to open both our mouth and your hearts, that we may speak as He has deigned to reveal, and that you may receive even as it is expedient for you.