Feast of St.Bartholomew.
Today is the feast of one of the twelve apostles, Nathanael, or as he was later known, Bartholomew.
The context of today’s gospel is that Jesus is gathering his disciples. Philip is eager to tell Nathanael that he has found the Messiah.
Philip’s heart has been touched by meeting Jesus, so off he goes to share his discovery with his friend, Nathanael.
How do we share the Good News of God’s saving love for all humankind?
Nathanael rather sceptically comments, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” He regarded it as a place that was not likely to produce the Messiah.
How often do we make judgements on people or situations, convinced that we are correct?
Rather than argue with his friend, Philip took the wiser strategy of inviting Nathanael to “come and see” for himself who this Jesus claimed to be.
How ready am I to transmit the Gospel to others, just as I have received it from others myself?
How do I transmit the message of the Gospel with my words but even more with my deeds, relying not on my abilities but on the power of God?
When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Jesus opened Nathanael’s heart and his innermost thoughts and desires to God’s revelation. Jesus called Nathanael ‘an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ Nathanael hungered for God and believed in God’s promises. Nathanael knew the Scriptures. He had read the law and the prophets. He was waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promises to his people Israel. That is why he was willing to meet Jesus, to see if perhaps this miracle worker from Galilee might be the long-awaited Messiah.
Through the gift of revelation Nathanael recognized that Jesus was truly the Messiah, ‘the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ (John 1:49). Jesus offered Nathanael the greatest gift of all – “you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.”
In today’s gospel, we have someone who clearly had faith in God’s word carried through the Hebrew Scriptures. He may have had very different expectations about where the Messiah was going to come from. Yet his curiosity and openness lead to an encounter with Jesus filled with promise.
Joanne McGrath is a parishioner of St Brigid’s Marrickville and a Passionist Companion.