Gospel: Jn 1:45-51
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets: he is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.”
Nathanael answered, “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that.
“Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Today’s feast honors St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve, otherwise known as Nathanael. He might be considered rather skeptical about the possibility of the Messiah coming from a lowly place called Nazareth. Jesus saw in him sincerity and genuineness. Hence the compliment: “This man is a real Israelite. There is no guile in him.” That the Lord knew him even before they encountered each other came as a surprise to Nathanael. Truly the Lord sees us and knows us more than we know ourselves. The saints such as Augustine affirm this insight. The beautiful thing is that in spite of his awareness of our weaknesses and sins the Lord takes the risk in calling us to participate in his mission. He is more interested in our potential for holiness.
An important quality or trait that the Lord looks for in his disciples is genuineness or honesty. Duplicity or hypocrisy contradicts the identity of the disciple and undermines his ministry. What is expected of a Christian disciple is integrity. The fruitfulness of his or her ministry rises and falls with this.
Vibrant faith, as the one displayed by Nathanael, is an indispensable element of discipleship. It is this faith that will allow us to see “much greater things.” Faith gives us a special and powerful vision that enables us to see beyond the physical and material. It will enable us to see “the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”