September 29, 2008
Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, archangels. Feast.
John 1: 47-51
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I thank you for allowing me to bear the title “Christian”. I am following Christ toward heaven; therefore, “Christian” is my name and title. This name is great – even divine – because my faith tells me so. This name definitely provokes holy hope. I love you above all things, Lord, and thus “Christian” is an appropriate name.
Petition: Help me, Lord, to love you unconditionally.
1. The Call
Jesus reveals to Nathanael that he saw him before Philip called him. Jesus does not start his ministry with delightful speeches, or by defeating his foes, performing stunning miracles and attracting mobs. Our Lord first calls a few imperfect men to open themselves to his message so that he may establish his Kingdom among all men. He will choose them much like he did Nathanael, and then he will dedicate the next three years to teaching them all about his Father and his love.
2. The Encounter
“I saw you under the fig tree.” This phrase is so simple, yet so mysterious. What happened under the fig tree? Perhaps Nathanael poured out his spirit in prayer to God under that tree. Only he knew about it, so it must have been a complete surprise to hear Christ tell him what happened. Whatever happened, Nathanael immediately recognized Jesus of Nazareth as being the Son of God and the King of Israel. Christ was indeed interested in Nathanael’s commitment to his Kingdom, so he called him and prepared him to be his apostle. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit is at work today, preparing many individuals for contact with and commitment to God.
3. A Greater Faith
Hearing Jesus say that he saw him under a fig tree touches Nathanael’s heart. Yet, Jesus challenges him: “Is this the only reason you believe? Would you also be willing to affirm things for which you have no rational clue? Would you be willing to affirm that you are about to see the Son of Man coming on the clouds, accompanied by angels?” When something is difficult for us to fathom, we should trust in it because Christ has assured us of it; we have no further need of proof or signs. For Nathanael, being seen under a fig tree is a sign to be believed because he experienced it, but coming on a cloud accompanied by angels requires greater faith, generosity and trust.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, there have been many fig tree experiences in my life. I thank you for allowing me to perceive your saving presence, especially when I was enduring a trial. Help me to commit myself unreservedly to your Kingdom in all its aspects, even in those parts that do not seem exciting to me. Help me to be faithful until death out of love for you.
Resolution: Today I will to read from the letters of St. Paul so that I can gain a clearer idea of how to activate my faith in ordinary circumstances.
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