Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Assumptions allow the best in life to pass you by

“A mind that is a fast judge is sick. A mind that is a slow judge is sound. A mind that is still is divine”

Gospel text (Jn 1:45-51): Philip found Nathanael and said to him, «We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well: He is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth ». Nathanael replied, «Can anything good come from Nazareth ?». Philip said to him, «Come and see». When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, «Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him». Nathanael asked him, «How do you know me?». And Jesus said to him, «Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you». Nathanael answered, «Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!». But Jesus replied, «You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree’. But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man».

In today’s Gospel, Nathaniel – also known as Bartholomew the Apostle, whose feast we celebrate today – is presented to us as someone who is quite prejudiced. He could not believe that Jesus is the promised liberator and savior because he comes from Nazareth , a small and insignificant town. «Can anything good come from Nazareth ?» (Jn 1:46). Something similar happens almost everywhere. It is standard procedure in every city or every town to be inclined to think that nothing worth its while may come from the next city, or town... there, they are all worthless... And vice versa. At the same time he is a good man who genuinely seeks to understand the truth. Jesus recognizes him as such and calls him a “true child of Israel .”

Jesus makes a cryptic reference to having seen him under the fig tree. In ancient Israel , people congregated in the shadow of the fig tree to discuss important matters of life and faith. In other words, having seen Nathaniel under the fig tree means that Jesus recognizes him as someone who honestly seeks the truth.

Nathaniel has shortcomings and at the same time he is also genuinely trying to live his faith. In that he is like all of us. We have shortcomings and do many things (in word, thought, or deed) that can contradict our faith. At the same time we also seek to understand our faith, want to be active parts of our faith community, and strive to live our faith through prayer and social engagement. As Mother Teresa would say, “God does not call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful.”

Come and see» (Jn 1:46). He goes, and from the very first moment he sees Jesus his vocation shows up. What, apparently, may look as sheer chance, it was, no doubt, set up since time began in God's plans. Nathanael is certainly not an unknown person for Jesus: «Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you» (Jn 1:48) Just like all of us, all the time. But to realize the infinite love of God for each one of us, to be fully conscious He is at my door knocking I need an external voice, a friend, a “Philip” who may tell me: «Come and see», somebody to take me to him. At times, we can be both “Philip” and “Nathaniel”, the person who takes a friend to Christ by the way we live our lives and the words we speak or we can be taken to Christ by someone else. The important thing to remember is our participation in the process is critical. Jesus stated, “'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20). If we do not approach the door, listen for the "knock", and open it ourselves, no one is going to let us in.

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