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The call of Nathanael

Gospel Reading: Jn 1:45-51
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”


There is a lesson to be learned from Nathanael’s knowing skepticism. Call it prejudice or provincialism. But, in fact, it is a faithful reflection of our own sophisticated condescension toward the new in religion, of our smug contentment with what we know, of our reluctance even to consider what we do not know. It is our perennial temptation to think that, just because we have nothing more to say about anything, nothing remains to be said.

Here, as perhaps nowhere else in the life of faith, to stand still and barricade oneself in the status quo is not merely to regress but to die. Such an attitude would merely be an amusing weakness, were it not a genuine obstacle to follow Jesus (cf Jn 1:37). Jesus answers Nathanael, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?”

The dazzle of the miraculous begets faith, but the faith it begets will receive its just assessment at the Gospel in Jesus who will declare: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29). “You will see greater things than this.” The “greater things” promised Nathanael are the revelation and the promise that will be unfolded in the course of the Gospel. There will the disciples of Jesus behold “his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son” (Jn 1:14).

The revelation of Jesus’ glory as “the Father’s only Son” is the purpose of his coming to dwell among us.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.