Meditation: How can we know for ourselves and help
others to know with certainty that Jesus is truly the Son of God and
Savior of the world? Philip, a new disciple of Jesus, at first failed
to convince his friend Nathaniel that he had found the Messiah.
Nathanial was very skeptical. He didn’t like Nazareth and
didn’t want to have anything to do with people who came from such
an out of the way place. How could the Messiah come from such a
seemingly low-down town? Perhaps we are like Nathanial. We reject
others (or at least keep them distant from us) because they come from
some place or position we don’t like or find fault with. Rather
than argue with his friend, Philip took the wiser strategy of inviting
Nathaniel to "come and see" for himself who this Jesus claimed to
be. Clever arguments rarely win people to the gospel, but an encounter
with the person of Jesus Christ can transform one's life forever.
Nathaniel found in Jesus more than he could have hoped and dreamed.
Jesus spoke a word to Nathaniel and it set his heart ablaze with
wonder! Jesus, who knows our hearts better than we do, revealed to
Nathaniel the innermost thoughts and desire of his heart. Nathaniel was
hungry for knowledge of God. He really wanted to know God
personally. God places in every heart a longing and desire to know the
One who created us in love for love. That is why Augustine of
Hippo, who found God only after many years of wandering in disbelief
and darkness, exclaimed: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
What is the significance of Jesus' revelation of seeing Nathanial under the fig tree? The fig tree was a symbol of God's blessing and peace. It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool place to retreat and pray. It is very likely that Nathanial had meditated "under the fig tree" on the Messianic prophecies and prayed for their fulfillment in his time. Perhaps he dozed off for a midday nap and dreamed of God's kindgom like Jacob did when he saw a vision of the ladder which united earth with heaven. Nathaniel accepted Jesus as Messiah and Lord because he spoke to the need of his innermost being -- the desire to know God personally and to be united with him in his glory. Jesus' response to Nathanial's new faith is the promise that he himself will be the "ladder which unites earth with heaven" (see Genesis 28:12-17). God had opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with the living God. In Jacob's dream God revealed his angelic host and showed him the throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and descendants would dwell with the living God. Jesus proclaims to Nathanial that he himself is the fulfillment of this promise to the Patriarch Jacob. Jesus is the true ladder or stairway to heaven. In Jesus' incarnation, the divine Son of God taking on human flesh for our sake, we see the union of heaven and earth -- God making his dwelling with us and bringing us into the heavenly reality of his kingdom. Jesus' death on the Cross and his Resurrection opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each of us to "ascend to heaven" and to bring "heaven to earth" in the daily circumstances of our lives. God's kingdom is present in those who seek him and who do his will. Do you pray as Jesus taught, May your kingdom come and your will be done in earth as it is in heaven?
"Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for us. As you revealed yourself to your beloved Patriarchs and Apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may glorify you in my daily life. May I always find joy in your presence and never lose sight of the kingdom of heaven."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/