Come and See

John 1:43-53
1 Jn 3:11-21 / Ps 100

‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’
(John 1:46)

Like Nathanael we’re sometimes swayed
By status and duplicity,
But Jesus has shown us the way
To find His grace of humility.

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ 46Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ 48Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ 49Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ 50Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ 51And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you,* you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’ (John 1:43-53)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, St. John related how our Lord began to recruit the core group of His Church. First, He came upon Andrew and his brother Simon, whom He had called Peter. Going on to Galilee, He found Philip, and told him also to “Come, follow me.” Philip then got hold of Nathanael, who at first sounded skeptical, with the words, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” And Philip replied: “Come and see.” (1:46) When Philip brought Nathanael before Jesus, our Lord did not rebuke him for his skepticism, but even praised him, saying, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (1:47). These words were enough to melt away whatever doubts or skepticism the future apostle may have had about Jesus. In fact his skepticism turned to wonder: “How do you know me?” When Jesus gave a simple reply, “I saw you under the fig tree,” a great transformation occurred to Nathanael. Completely acknowledging his Master, he said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (Jn. 1:49).

Rather than rebuke the smug and self-confident Nathanael and teach him a lesson in humility for belittling His origin, our Lord instead did exactly the opposite – exalting him by calling him a “true Israelite”. But do we detect a touch of sarcasm in those words – “no deceit in him”? The very first named “Israel” was Jacob, but it was his deceit that robbed Esau of his birthright. Nathanael was clearly touched by the power of Jesus’ words, because his question seemed apologetic: “How do you know me?” When the Lord said, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under a fig tree,” he was all the more astounded because he probably was under a fig tree at the time, and Jesus was nowhere in sight. And so he professed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God. To this, our Lord replied, “You will see greater things than this. . . the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” And again, Jesus referred to Jacob, in an allusion to the ladder of heaven in Genesis 28:12.

When a friend called us to join the Brotherhood, we probably said, like Nathanael, “What good would come out of it?” And he probably replied, “Just come and see. If you don’t like it, you can always walk away.” And we have stayed on. Have we come to regret staying on? Or have we seen greater things that have made us stay?

Lord God, like Nathanael before us, we were once full of doubt and skepticism. We had preferred to be pragmatic and practical about life, hiding behind a mask. And then one day Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ called me, and in some way that only He could express, He told me that He believed in me, in my sincerity, despite my own consciousness of my pride and duplicity. Father God, it is to my shame and deep regret that I have not been totally truthful to your beloved Son, despite everything that he has done for me. Grant me the grace, Lord to be able to live up to His expectations, and to be worthy of His Name. Amen.

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