Saturday, January 5, 2019
1) Opening prayer
All-powerful and ever-living God,
You give us a new vision of Your glory
in the coming of Christ Your Son.
He was born of the Virgin Mary
and came to share our life.
May we come to share His eternal life
in the glory of Your kingdom,
where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - 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 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 the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
• Jesus returned to Galilee. He met Philip and called him by telling him: “Follow Me!” The purpose of the call is always the same: “to follow Jesus”. The first Christians sought to preserve the names of the first disciples and of some of them they even kept as their family names and the names of their places of origin. Philip, Andrew and Peter were from Bethsaida (Jn 1:44). Nathanael was from Cana. Today, many forget the names of the people who were at the start of their communities. Remembering the names is a way of preserving identity.
• Philip meets Nathanael and speaks to him about Jesus: “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth”. Jesus is the one to whom all the history of the Old Testament refers.
• Nathanael asks: “From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place?” Probably, even in his question, there shows a rivalry which existed among the small villages of the same region: Cana and Nazareth. According to the official teaching of the scribes, the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, in Judah. He would not come from Nazareth in Galilee (Jn 7:41-42). Philip gives the same answer which Jesus gave to the other two disciples: “Come and see for yourself!” It is not by imposing, but by seeing that people are convinced. Once again the same way: to meet, to experience, to share, to witness, to lead toward Jesus!
• Jesus sees Nathanael and says: “Truly, he is an Israelite in whom there is no deception”. And He affirms that He already knew him when he was under the fig tree. How could Nathanael be an “authentic or true Israelite” if he did not accept Jesus as the Messiah? Nathanael “was under the fig tree”. The fig tree was the symbol of Israel (cf. Mi 4:4; Zc 3:10; 1 Kg 5:5). An authentic Israelite is one who knows how to detach himself from his own ideas when he sees that they are not in agreement with God’s plan. The Israelite who is not ready for this conversion is neither authentic nor honest. Nathanael is authentic. He was waiting for the Messiah according to the official teaching of the time (Jn 7:41-42,52). This is why, at the beginning, he did not accept a Messiah coming from Nazareth. But the encounter with Jesus helped him to understand that God’s plan is not always as people imagine or desire it to be. He recognizes and acknowledges his mistake, he changes his idea, and he accepts God as Messiah and confesses: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God: You are the King of Israel!” The confession of Nathanael is only the beginning: The one who will be faithful will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of man. He will experience that Jesus is the new bond between God and human beings. It is the dream of Jacob which has become a reality (Gen 28:10-22).
4) Personal questions
• Which title for Jesus pleases you the most? Why?
• Have you had an intermediary that brought you to Jesus?
5) Concluding prayer
For Yahweh is good,
His faithful love is everlasting,
His constancy from age to age. (Ps 100:5)