“If nothing can change, then nothing will change.”

The Gospel for last Sunday, March 13th was the story of the encounter between Nathanael and Jesus (John 1.43-51). Here is the text including vs. 35-42 which contains the first occurrence of the invitation “come and see.”

John 1.35-51
[35] The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples;
[36] and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
[37] The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
[38] Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
[39] He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
[40] One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
[41] He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
[42] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
[43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
[44] Now Philip was from Beth-sa’ida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
[45] Philip found Nathan’a-el, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
[46] Nathan’a-el said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
[47] Jesus saw Nathan’a-el coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
[48] Nathan’a-el said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
[49] Nathan’a-el answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
[50] Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.”
[51] And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

There is a wonderful homily on this text by Fr. Seraphim Holland that can be found here. A copy of my adaptation of that homily for my own use is available from me upon request.

What can we take away from this passage to apply in our lives during Lent and beyond?

The invitation, “come and see,” was first by Jesus to two disciples of John the Forerunner – Andrew and Philip. This invitation is then repeated by both Andrew and Philip to those who inhabited their everyday life – Simon and Nathanael.

We need to learn and integrate into our life the truth that we have the authority and responsibility to issue the same invitation as Jesus, “come and see,” to those who inhabit our everyday life.

But with that invitation comes the challenge to offer a real encounter with the living Christ!! What does that require?! Change. Our lives must be changed just like Andrew’s and Philip’s were, so Christ Jesus can make His direct appeal (encounter) through us to the “Simon(s)” and “Nathanael(s)” of our daily life. The Good News is that things, circumstances, and people CAN change. There IS hope. That hope for others begins with us — our initial and ongoing change (transformation).

Let me leave you with some challenging questions that I have been asking myself as a result of letting this Gospel story touch me:

• Are you willing to accept a deeper (more mature) way of living your new life in Christ Jesus? Are you willing to change?
• Are you willing to place into the hands of Christ Jesus your “Nazareth” of impossibility and hopelessness like Nathanael?
• Are you willing to give up your answer to the “Nazareth dilemma” or your way of responding to it and receive the one offered by Christ Jesus?
• Are you willing to conceive of the possibility that “good things can come out of Nazareth?” Are you willing to see Christ Jesus step out of your Nazareth, walk toward you and touch you and others in ways that are beyond what you could ever ask or imagine?!!

The key is to be ready and willing and obedient. And the key is to be both Andrew/Philip and Nathanael.

Be Andrew/Philip – having a hunger and thirst (desire) to follow the signs of LIFE. Ready and willing and obedient to be pointed toward a deeper relationship with the Lord and ready to issue the invitation in a manner that is of God’s design (timing, content, and form). Be ever becoming the person whose life says, “come and see.”

Be Nathanael – having no guile. Ready and willing and obedient to be taught and changed by the Holy Spirit. Ready and willing to have God use your life to proclaim that Christ Jesus is “the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

I love what The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says in its article about Nathanael:

“By describing Nathanael as a true, guileless, Israelite (1:47), Jesus meant, not that he was sinless, but that he was utterly sincere, enlightened, and completely dedicated to God… he was an Israelite at heart, not merely in outward appearance… Whoever he was, Nathanael serves in the Fourth Gospel as a symbol of the pious, God-fearing Israelite who, good as he is, stands incomplete, and who must be willing to pass beyond his intellectual difficulties concerning Jesus into saving faith in Him.” (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible,  Volume 3, pg. 511)

I have to admit, that says a lot to me not just about coming into a saving relationship with Jesus and the beginning of a life of discipleship but about what being a disciple who is growing in his or her discipleship from one stage of maturity to another.

Come and see

Come and know

Come and change

Come and live Christ Jesus!!

God Bless,

Fr. Thomas


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