REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 24, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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.” Jn. 1:45-46
Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostle Bartholomew whom tradition considered to be Nathanael. Nathanael could have been his surname. Our gospel reference of today contain the reaction of Nathanael to Philip’s shared belief that Jesus of Nazareth might be the Messiah. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Why did Nathanael react this way? Most likely because Rabbinical thinking held that the Messiah would come from Judea, the land of David and most certainly not from the region of Galilee, overrun by Gentiles. Nathanael’s reaction revealed a firm adherence to God’s word as he understood it. So, Nathanael immediately raises this doubt because of Jesus’ supposed origin. Of course, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and only later moved to Nazareth, but Nathanael did not immediately realize this.
The first lesson to ponder today is that, just like Nathanael, we can easily doubt matters of faith because we do not fully understand. Perhaps if Philip had come and said that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth, then Nathanael may have been more immediately open. But this encounter most likely unfolded as it did, with Nathanael’s initial doubt, because the Holy Spirit, Who inspired these Scriptures, wanted us to learn an important lesson.
The lesson we must learn is that we must not close the door on the Truth just because something doesn’t immediately make sense to us. Doubts are never from God. The good news in today’s gospel reference is that, even though Nathanael did immediately express a certain doubt, he remained open to what Philip was saying. Philip, in answer to this doubt, said the best thing he could have said. He said, “Come and see.”
As Christian, what is it in your life that seems confusing to you regarding your life or in regard to the many truths of our faith? If there is something that you struggle with in this way, then listen to the words of Philip and allow them to be spoken to you: “Come and see.” God wants to give us the freedom and openness that Nathanael had.
When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Nathanael quickly professed his full faith in Jesus as the “Son of God” and the “King of Israel.” Jesus said very little to Nathanael to convince him of these truths. Jesus simply told Nathanael that he had seen him sitting under the fig tree and that He knew that Nathanael was a man without guile. To be without guile means that you are not two-faced; rather, you are a very honest and straightforward person. The lesson of Nathanael tells us that if we bring our confusion to our Lord in faith and openness, all will be made clear. We will have our temptations to doubt removed, and we will be able to have faith that goes far beyond human reason alone.
Reflect, today, upon the genuineness and openness of the heart of Nathanael. Bring to our Lord any and every question you have with the expectation that you will receive what you need. Faith does not usually come through convincing arguments or detailed deductive reasoning. It normally comes through a pure and simple openness to the Voice of God speaking within our soul. But when the gift of faith is given, it brings with it a holy certainty that cannot be doubted.
Lord, You invite all of us to come to You, to see You and to have faith in You. You truly are the Son of God and the King of all. Please open my mind to all that You wish to say to me so that I may shed my doubts and come to a transforming faith in all things. Jesus, I trust in You.