I ALWAYS get amused everytime I read about the calling of Nathanael, one of the apostles who later became known as Bartholomew. (cfr. Jn 1,43-51) His friend, Philip, already an apostle, excitedly told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
And what was his response? With words dripping with a provincial and prejudiced frame of mind, he said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” That was when Philip invited him to “come and see.” And from this rather casual encounter, a great thing took place. Nathanael became an apostle himself!
The story of Nathanael’s calling somehow tells us that there are things in our life that we should not take too seriously nor judge too definitively. Because even if a person, like Nathanael, would at first show some kind of doubt about Christ, about God and about religion in general, we know that things can change for the better.
There is always hope, since there will always be some reason for everything, good or bad, humanly speaking, to happen. The providence of God knows how to deal with every case properly. And if the person concerned corresponds properly also, then what may be considered bad at the beginning would turn out to be good.
Nathanael embodies the ordinary person who, in spite of his warts and all, still has that basic, irreducible trait of exposing his heart, no matter how defective, to the truth. He does not run away nor hide from it.
He is truly a man with no guile, no pretensions, no need for covering. Except for the normal need for discretion and modesty, he is completely transparent. What you see is what you get.
More, he is willing and eager to know the truth, and to make the necessary changes and adjustments that such truth would require of him. He is humble enough to accept things as they are, never bending them to make the pieces fit his own ideas. Rather, the contrary.
That’s why we would immediately feel good every time we meet such persons. They always exude such welcome and wholesome aura about themselves in spite of their imperfections. They contribute in making society more at peace and in harmony.
Children are such persons, though their being guileless is due to their innocence and lack of exposure to the world. When you see such quality in a person who is already exposed to the world, then you really would feel good.
I consider this point most relevant these days, since this quality is getting very rare, even approaching the point of extinction. The other day, CNN reported that among the most hated expressions nowadays is the word “Absolutely.”
That’s because that term is now used “ad infinitum,” “ad nauseam,” even by people who are caught lying “in flagrante delicto,” that is, in the act. Everyone now seems to use that word, such that it has been strained to the limits, drained and made to bleed to death, emptied of its true meaning.
Especially in the media, in the exchanges of opinions, the truth has been warped and deformed into different shapes, stretched or shrunk depending on circumstances by people who have become unreliable experts in opinion-making. Let’s remember and imitate St. Bartholomew in his simplicity of heart and sincerity. His story shows that before we look for the truth, it is God first, Truth himself, who looks for us. We should just follow God first before anything else. By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail January 2-8, 2023 issue)