January 5, 2019 (readings)
- Memorial of Saint John Neumann, bishop
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.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to hear your voice in this Scripture passage and to receive with an open heart whatever you want to tell me. I believe in you, hope in you, and love you.
Petition: God the Father, help me to be steadfast in your love.
1. Serving God Requires Perseverance: John the Baptist has done his job of redirecting others to Christ: He is not mentioned in the Gospel reading today. The focus has shifted to Jesus calling his future apostles, prepared beforehand by the Baptist. As with Andrew, those who are prepared to meet Christ discover in him a great treasure that they cannot keep to themselves. This time, Philip encounters Christ and shares this discovery with Nathaniel. When Nathaniel reacts skeptically, Philip doesn’t give up. He knows that personal experience is more powerful than words, so he brings Nathaniel to meet Jesus. If we try to bring others to Christ, we could run into similar obstacles: hesitation, skepticism, lack of interest…. Do we give in too easily, or do we try to engage others more actively?
2. Jesus Wants Us: When Nathaniel does meet Jesus, he is surprised to discover that Jesus knows him and appreciates him for who he is. There is probably more background to Jesus’ simple words than the Gospel tells us because they win Nathaniel over instantly. Perhaps we sometimes forget that Jesus, as God, is our creator, and when he calls a person (and in one way or another he calls every person), he does it knowing exactly whom he is calling. It is not a general altar call: It is a personal, direct call to our hearts, rooted in a real understanding of us as we are. He knows and loves us better than any mere human being ever could. When we experience that and help others to do so too, then his call becomes irresistible.
3. Learning to See the Greater Works of God: Jesus promises Nathaniel that he will see “greater things” in the future; in fact, he will witness most of the miracles of Jesus first-hand and will see many manifestations of the Father’s love for the Son. Indeed, this is often the way Jesus works with all of us. We may be won over by an impressive experience of God, but as our relationship with God deepens, we see “greater things” — not necessarily more spectacular things. As our appreciation for spiritual things grows, we become more attuned to God’s work, and we can pick up on the work of grace in our lives and the lives of others. That profound transformation is much greater than any miraculous physical healing or any merely sentimental experience. We need faith and trust and attentiveness to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit — plus a healthy dose of patience — if we want to see how God works, but the wait will be worth it.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, it is very comforting and encouraging to realize that you know me through and through, that you love me and want me to follow you. Thank you for your love! Help me to bring others to you as well. Give me wisdom and perseverance to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. Help me to discern the wonders of your grace in my life and the lives of those around me.
Resolution: I will take the time to reflect on the ways God has worked in my life and, through me, in others. I will analyze how I can better collaborate with his grace.
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