Today’s Gospel appears simple but is profound on many levels. There are one or two passages that stumped me till I did some research. Below are notes which I found helpful and am delighted to share. But first here are my reflections :-
- How many of us upon hearing our Lord’s voice will pick ourselves up to follow him?
- How many of us are comfortable sitting under a tree, reflecting on God’s goodness and Word without recognising that He is watching and waiting for us to be moved into action to build His Kingdom?
- Do we always see Him with the eyes of faith in the Eucharist? Rabbi! The Son of God…The King of Kings!
- Do we bear witness to His Glory in All things?
1:43 - Bethsaida: A village on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. Nathanael: Also called “Bartholomew” in the Synoptic Gospels. See chart: The Twelve Apostles at Mk 3
Nathanael was profoundly versed in the SS. Scriptures; and hence, accommodating himself to Nathanael’s character for sacred erudition. Philip said, “We have found Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth, of whom Moses wrote,” etc., Him of whom Moses wrote in the Law and the Prophets, the long expected of the Jewish nation—who is no other, than Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth. He was reupted to be the son of Joseph of the Royal House of David. Our Lord was a Galilean, being educated and brought up at Nazareth. “Of Nazareth,” is to be joined with the word “Jesus,” not with Joseph,” as is clear from the Greek. The words of this verse are precisely the same as those briefly addressed by Andrew to Peter (v. 41, “We have found the Messiah.”
“Can any good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael, versed in the SS. Scriptures, knew that Christ was to come from Bethlehem (Micheas 5), and the Scribes, in their reply to Herod, said the same (Matthew 2:5). The Jews, in reply to Nicodemus (John 7:52), said that no Prophet could come out of Nazareth. Hence, Nathanael, in admiration, asks, can any thing extraordinary, can so great a blessing come from this obscure, mean village, in the despised Province of Galilee? Still, Nathanael does not deny it. He only seems to wonder at it. It might be true. For, although Micheas pointed to Bethlehem as his birthplace; still, other Prophecies said he would come from Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). Hence, the prudence of Nathanael, who, answering in hesitation, does not deny it, but only expresses surprise at such a great blessing coming from Nazareth, since the prevalent opinion among the people was, that He was to come from the seed of David and the town of Bethlehem (c. 7:42). “Come and see.” Philip had no doubt that a brief conversation with our Lord would at once convince Nathanael that He was the promised Messiah.
1:47 an Israelite indeed: i.e., a descendant of the patriarch Jacob, who was renamed “Israel” (Gen 32:28). Ironically, Jacob himself was known for his beguiling ways, especially when he intercepted the family blessing intended for his older brother Esau (Gen 27:35).
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. vii. c. 21) Has this fig tree any meaning? We read of one fig tree which was cursed, because it had only leaves, and no fruit. Again, at the creation, Adam and Eve, after sinning, made themselves aprons of fig leaves. Fig leaves then signify sins; and Nathanael, when he was under the fig tree, was under the shadow of death: so that our Lord seemeth to say, O Israel, whoever of you is without guile, O people of the Jewish faith, before that I called thee by My Apostles, when thou wert as yet under the shadow of death, and sawest Me not, I saw thee.
Another view of “Under The Fig Tree” : a symbol of messianic peace (cf. Mi 4:4; Zec 3:10).
Nathanael declares three things, which had been predicted of our Lord in the SS. Scriptures. 1st, he declares Him a doctor and teacher, “Rabbi,’ This was prophesied regarding Him by Joel (2:23)(NAB,Clemetine Vulagate), who calls Him “a teacher of justice.” 2nd, “the Son of God.” declared long before by the Psalmist, “filius meus es tu.” 3rdly, King of Israel, as predicted by Zacharias (9:9).
1:51 – An allusion to Jacob’s Ladder (GN 28:12)