But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
In today’s gospel, we hear of the calling of the first disciples. Andrew and Peter, Philip and Nathanael. But there’s a curious little twist to the story of Nathanael’s calling. When Philip first shares his good news, saying, “[Come, for] we have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth,” Nathanael wants nothing to do with it. He rebuffs his friend, saying, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Have you ever gotten really excited about something, so excited that you couldn’t wait to share it with your friends or family? You might even set up a special time to meet with them just to tell them about it. Maybe it’s a book you’ve read, or a TV series that you fell in love with. But, when you do share it with them, they respond in an indifferent manner. Maybe they even dismiss it as being of no value at all, “I don’t read historical books,” or “Science Fiction has never interested me.” The feeling of let down can be disappointing, even devastating.
Or perhaps you have been the dismissive one when someone shared something with you. I wonder sometimes if that is how God feels when he sees me turn away from His plan. Not that any of us know God’s plan in any detail, but with a well-formed conscious, you can usually tell when you’re slipping. God offers us a world where we can find love, by loving others. Where we can find compassion by being compassionate. Where we can find peace by sharing His peace. And yet we turn away to build up our own ego.
But let’s get back to Nathanael’s story. Yes, he’s dismissive at first, but Philip gently prods him, “Come and see.” And, to his credit, Nathanael does not let his preconceived notions get in his way of following his friend’s request. He follows Philip and meets Jesus and he himself is amazed at what he finds.
My prayer for myself and you today is that we will always be willing to put aside our preconceived notions of how the world should be, or the way that it is, and listen to God’s invitation us to help Him build His kingdom here on earth.
Talib Huff is a volunteer and presenter at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.