“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

For today’s Feast of St. Bartholomew (Nathanael), Apostle we take a detour to his calling in John (1:45-51).  The scene opens with Philip finding Nathanael so that he could tell him about the One foretold by Moses.  Finding out that this man, Jesus, was from Nazareth, he utters the infamous line at top.  Philip just beckons him to see for himself.  On approaching Jesus, Nathanael is called non-duplicitous by Him.  Wondering how Jesus knows him, Jesus responds that He saw him under the fig tree.  This elicits Nathanael’s response that Jesus is Son of God and King of Israel.  Jesus says that if his belief comes from His words about the fig tree that he will see greater things including the angels ascending and descending on Him.  Nathanael’s initial response to hearing of Jesus, unfortunately, seems to be the response of many today.  It’s not so hard to understand when it comes from non-believers, but it’s very sad when it comes from so-called believers or those who have fallen away.  Jesus provides an enormous challenge to every generation: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt 16:24).  Forgetting oneself, enduring trials with love, and following all of His teachings is a tall order.  No doubt there are many who wished Jesus would have stayed in Nazareth to avoid having to live up to His standards.  Others simply continue to agree with Nathanael’s initial statement, because what is “good” to them doesn’t comport to the Good.  May it never be with us that we wished Jesus would have not fulfilled the will of the Father because we don’t want to deal with the challenges of living our lives for Him.  Doing what He did, Jesus found the way of the cross and accomplished the possibility of salvation for us.  What would we not do to embrace this gift from this moment until we meet the Lord at the close of this life?

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