We know very little about most of the men that we call apostles, the ones closest to Jesus during his “public life.” (Today’s saint is even less well-known because he is sometimes called Bartholomew and sometimes Nathaniel!) There are two things in the gospel for today (JN 1:45-51) that caught my attention. The first was right at the beginning where Philip sought out Nathaniel to take him to meet Jesus. Today’s passage begins with Philip saying: “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law.” My question was about who the “we” is/are and what is the evidence they had. When Philip gave him the slightest background (“Joseph’s son, from Nazareth”), Nathaniel was obviously not interested, asking “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip didn’t give up, however. He invited Nathaniel to “Come and see.” By his persistence we can intuit prior encounters of others.
I presume Nathaniel was surprised when Jesus saw him coming and said, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him” Then addressing Nathaniel directly, he said, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” And that was enough for Nathaniel to believe that Jesus was the one they would know as “Son of God.”
Admittedly, the gospels are rather sketchy, not giving us full descriptions of events and conversations. My “takeaways” from the above encounter are the following:
#1: How quick we are to judge people by where they come from and what is the status of their family, and #2: How important it is to trust other people while also judging for ourselves by checking out what they have told us.