August 24, 2016
(St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr)
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Jn_1:45-51
Unlike the first ‘Israel’, Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was duplicitous in his deception of his father to receive the blessing that rightfully belonged to his brother Esau. This non-duplicitous Nathanael is also believed to be the one named Bartholomew, today’s saint.
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.” ibid
The fig tree is symbolic of Messianic peace. Nathanael may have been peacefully relieving himself. He may have been peacefully praying, or doing something else in what he thought was a totally private place. And yet, Jesus saw and Jesus knew!
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.” ibid
And OH, there would be much greater ‘things’ than just the power of vision, the power of knowledge. Jesus would cure the incurable. Jesus would raise the dead back to life. Jesus would walk on water. Jesus would multiply food in a much more palpable way than Moses ever did. And Jesus Himself would walk that stairway to heaven that Jacob only saw in a vision (Jacob’s Ladder – Gn 28:12), with angels ministering to Him.
And he (Jesus) said to him (Nathanael), “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” ibid
John the Evangelist was a very symbolic writer, as we see in this short piece about Nathanael / Bartholomew. And yet it’s interesting to see both Philip and Nathanael professing Jesus as Messiah so early in Jesus’ ministry. While it wasn’t until after his resurrection that they truly understood the truth of that profession.
We may wear a crucifix necklace, we may attend Mass regularly, we may stand up for the lives of the unborn, the peace of our enemies and even give to the poor and needy, but do we truly understand the Messiah. Jesus is and was and will be ALL!
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