Lectio Divina: St. Bartholomew, Apostle
1) Opening prayer
help us to seek the values
that will bring us enduring joy in this changing world.
In our desire for what You promise
make us one in mind and heart.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - John 1:45-51
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 heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
• Jesus returned to Galilee. He met Philip and called him 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 some they even kept their family names and the name of their place 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 origin of their communities. To remember the names is a way of preserving the 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?” His question probably shows that there was some of the rivalry which existed among the small villages of the same region: Cana and Nazareth. Besides that, according to the official teaching of the scribes, the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, in Judah. He could not come from Nazareth in Galilee (Jn 7:41-42). Philip gives the same answer which Jesus had given to the other two disciples: “Come and see for yourself!” It is not by imposing, but rather 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, here is an Israelite in whom there is no deception.” Then He declares 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. Mic 4:4; Zech 3:10; 1 Kg 5:5). An authentic Israelite is the one who knows how to detach himself from his own ideas when he perceives that they are not in agreement with God’s plan. The Israelite who is not ready to bring about 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 first, 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 deception or mistake. He changes his idea, accepts Jesus as Messiah and confesses, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel !” Nathanael’s confession is only the beginning: The one who will be faithful will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. He will experience that Jesus is the new bond of union between God and us, human beings. It is Jacob’s dream which has become a reality (Gen 28:10-22).
4) Personal questions
• Which title of Jesus that pleases you the most? Why?
• Have you had an intermediary between you and Jesus?
5) Concluding prayer
Upright in all that He does,
Yahweh acts only in faithful love. (Ps 145:17)