A Reading from the Gospel of John (1:47-51)
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. 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 heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Opening Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us to pardon what conscious dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to ask. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
Encountering Christ: Our Lord told Nathanael that he was a true child of Israel, that there was “ no duplicity in him.” Jesus was drawing attention to the nobility of Nathanael’s soul. Nathanael was not about impressing others. He wasn’t concerned about appearances. He was authentic, real, honest, and trustworthy. “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Wouldn’t we like to know what went on under that fig tree? Any guess would be mere speculation, but the important thing to know is that the occurrence Jesus referred to was probably quite significant to Nathanael. He seemed overcome with amazement that Jesus knew him more deeply than anyone had ever known him before. Jesus also knows each of us intimately. He knows our deepest intentions when others only see words and actions. He knows our distorted intentions—ones that can corrupt even the most heroic of gestures. And he knows the deepest desires of our heart, sometimes before we do. The more we allow God into the most intimate sanctuary of our soul, the greater will be our experience of the wonders he can do in us. It is remarkable that God knows us as he does, even more remarkable that he loves us as he does, and still more remarkable that he calls us into union with him. Our experience of giving God permission to plumb the depths of our hearts opens us to the truth of being deeply, overwhelmingly loved by him, and finally to the experience of allowing him to transform us and lead us to union with him.
Angels could be said to be both messengers and messages from God. The three angels, who we celebrate today, Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, are referred to in the Bible: – Michael won the battle over Satan when Satan confronted God. For many years we prayed at the end of the Eucharist that he might defend us in the hour of conflict. Raphael was the helper of Tobit and his family in their sufferings and misfortunes. Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus.
This Gospel story chosen for their feast reminds us that Jesus is the ‘special messenger and message’ from God, and that all that God wishes to do and say to us is now done through Him. How blessed are we by these mysterious creatures God has given us! How often do we think of them? Welcome their presence in our life, and ask them for favors?
Closing Prayer: Jesus, you reward Nathanael by sharing with him a new level of disclosure and intimacy between yourself and him. Please be patient with us, we pray, and ‘grant that we may see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly’.
Action: Nathaniel was genuine, true, sincere, and faithful. This disposition pleased Jesus. Can we say the same for ourselves? Let us pray for the grace to be true to our Christian convictions, no matter what pressures we undergo as a result.