The Gospel according to 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.”
Reflection: This scripture has always intrigued me. Don’t you wonder what Nathanael was doing under the fig tree? Perhaps taking a nap, praying, or just daydreaming. And, just before this passage, Phillip told Nathanael they had found “The Messiah” and it was Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth. His response was “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” So why did Jesus choose him to be one of His first followers? The apparent reason comes from what Jesus says about Nathanael, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.”
The word duplicity makes me think of two contemporary sayings. The first is “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” And “Let your no mean no and your yes mean yes.” As a child we lack the moral cunning to be duplicitous. Children are honest until they learn the art of deception in order to get what they want. As we grow, we continue to develop our abilities to deceive when our best interest is at stake. When a babysitter asks, “Do your parents let you do that?” the response is usually an emphatic but untrue “YES!” As an adult we can manufacture and conjure multiple rationalizations to justify an action or behavior we know to be harmful to us and or others.
Since the beginning of time God has know who we are. His son Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows each of us by name and with the intimacy that is only present in a deep and passionate love. When Jesus calls us by name, like he did His apostles, and we recognize and respond to His call we can experience a conversion that is life changing. The light of Salvation makes all things visible including our sin. When we seek Him in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist our capacity for duplicity is replaced by a sincere desire to follow Christ. We probably all know what it feels like to be filled with grace when we are in the presence of God. What better antidote is there to the deception that is so prevalent in our lives and in this world.
God has never required us to be perfect. He desires fidelity to our relationship with Him and each other.
Action of the Day: Throughout today see if you can forsee places in your life where you struggle to say what you mean and mean what you say. Ask for the grace you need to be honest but not cruel, sincere but not judgemental, loving but not selfish. This could be the begenning of a new chapter where we are able to see the greater things that Jesus has in store for us.