AUGUST 24. St. Bartholomew. Apostle. Jn 1. 45-51
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael. ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’
Because today is the feast day of an apostle the focus in on how Jesus went about finding and appointing his apostles. It is interesting to note Nathanael’s response (Bartholomew) to the possibility of Jesus being from Nazareth; - “Can anything good come from that place?”
We have to remember “that place” was where Jesus chose to spend thirty years; - ninety per cent of his life; - which tells us his happiness and peace had nothing to do with the “quality” of where he lived. It tells us he was totally detached from such thoughts, with his only desire being to do the will of the Father!
This may seem an irrelevant point but I beg to differ, because any disciple of Christ, who was invited to “follow him”, was also expected to live in the same way as their master and teacher; and this criteria applies equally to Christians. Sadly, many of us want to be followers of Christ, but we also want “comfort” and a “good quality life!”
It is worthy of note the way Nathanael was found in that it was through the actions of Philip; - which is a method often used by God to invite souls to follow him; - with many “calls” being made through the actions of others; - a truth that continues to apply to the spreading of Christianity even today.
And Philip’s response to Nathanael’s doubt about Christ being the Redeemer is also a good example for us today; - he said “Come and see,” which equates to inviting someone to “come to Jesus” themselves; - and meet him via prayer and the Gospels; - which is the initial way of encountering Christ.
And when Nathanael took up the offer of meeting Jesus that was enough to obtain divine intervention; - which Christ telling him the circumstances of his meeting with Philip; - ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’
Anyone who makes a genuine effort to meet Jesus; - or become closer to him through love; - will have the same experience as Christ never fails to respond to someone genuinely trying to meet him, or draw closer to him.
And Nathanael bore witness to this truth as he became to first person in the Gospels to proclaim Jesus to be The Son of God; - a unique honour, and he did this after only his first meeting with his new Master! ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’
But remember; - events like this come about, not by human actions, but through divine grace!
Gospel Acclamation Jn1:49
Master, you are the Son of God,
you are the king of Israel.
First reading Apocalypse 21:9-14 ·
He showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven
The angel came to speak to me, and said, ‘Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.’ In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.