The Gospel according to John (1:43-51)
Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. 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.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. 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 the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Reflection: Growing up in Boyle Heights, the very first neighborhood entering East Los Angeles crossing the 6th & 7thStreet bridges, was a wonderful experience. Most of my youth was spent in the carefree pursuit of fun and games. It was not until my teen years that I started to notice how people outside of my neighborhood would sometimes treat me different when they knew where I was from. As time and life experience went on, I learned what prejudice was before I knew the word itself.
I very much relate to today’s gospel, specifically about how Nathaniel says “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”. In a way you can’t blame him for wondering how the promised messiah could come from such a seemingly insignificant place. But it is the way the question is worded that stings. I absolutely love Philip’s response, “Come and see”. He is confident because he is filled with hope and excitement that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.
In one of my favorite lines from the series, The Chosen, Jesus says “get used to different”. This is in response to Peter who questions Jesus about asking Matthew, the tax collector, to follow him. It seems Jesus was often questioned about how and why he did things. Throughout His ministry he struggled trying to convince his followers and people who listened to his teachings that His mission was not what people had expected. In order to understand His purpose, one had to see with the eyes of their heart and soul not their mind.
It would seem that we struggle with the same issues as our predecessors. It has been said that the journey from the heart to the mind is greater and more treacherous than a trip to the moon. Our own prejudices hold us back from the beauty of the Kingdom of God which is all around us. The greater things that Jesus promises Nathaniel are promised to us as well. All we have to do is believe and come and see.
Action of the Day: Admitting we are prejudice is a difficult thing. We would like to believe that since we are followers of Christ we have nothing but love in our hearts. But we must admit that in our human weakness we do suffer from this dysfunction. In deep and meaningful prayer and contemplation look for where the grace of God can help uncover and remedy the times and occasions this struggle affects us.