Jesus really loves Nathaniel. He is not a deceitful man. “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” John 1:46 The word that is used to describe deceit in the original Greek text of John’s Gospel is “dolos”. A good way to understand this word is its etymology which means “a bait for fish”. We offer a worm to the fish not to feed him but to eat him.
When Jesus looks at Nathaniel He sees a man who is transparent A duplicitous or deceitful person presents himself as respectful and caring for another, but deep down is only using others for his own ends.
Many of us have an all too long a history of using people in a nice way. Often there is lacking a genuine care for the welfare of the other, but with a very real care for our own self. In today’s Gospel we find a man, Nathaniel, who is transparent. He can be unpleasantly honest. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” But what you see is what you get!
Transparency is used a lot today in politics. However, the claim of transparency is often the ultimate duplicity! It is a deception by pretending to entertain one set of intentions while acting under the influence of another. People are a great gift of God to us. The name of Nathaniel literally means “gift from God”. The gifts of God must be used but not just appropriated for our personal use. They should bring us to serve Him, His people and not just ourselves.
Let us pray that we may not be duplicitous in our relationships with God, others and ourselves. Blaise Pascal in a moment of negativity said: “We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.” May God grant to us that most comforting and humble attitude of genuineness!
Father Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.