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A Penetrating Look
Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, here I am. I invite you to come and lay your eyes on my soul. I want to put aside all distractions and return that look.
- There Is No Duplicity in Him: The way in which Jesus described Nathanael speaks of integrity, honesty, and justice. The Gospel passage seems to suggest further that the encounter between such a person and Christ is characterized by profound and almost immediate mutual recognition—almost as if the absence of duplicity clears the way for man to come to faith.
- How Do You Know Me?: On a first glance, the sudden realization that we are known by another may frighten us. At the same time, to be known is one of our deepest desires and needs. To stand fast while someone’s gaze embraces our soul: We know that nothing makes us feel more vulnerable, but we also know that nothing can bring greater joy than this type of communion. That is what awaits us in heaven: perfectly joyful communion among each other, while basking in the loving and eternal gaze of God.
- You Are the Son of God: Jesus and Nathanael locked eyes in this passage. Something extraordinary happened here and Nathanael realized this in an instant. To pray means to lock eyes with Jesus. What sensation does that provoke? Fear? When we put all duplicity aside and allow the Holy Spirit to replace that fear with the genuine desire to be known by Our Lord, joyful communion will take possession of us, and Nathanael’s profession of faith can become our own.
Conversing with Christ: My Lord, no one sees into the depths of my heart like you do. Sometimes, I want to hide from your gaze because it makes me feel vulnerable. I now renew my trust in you: I have nothing to fear from you, and there is nothing in me that I cannot show to you. Your gaze does not sting but soothes and heals.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will bask in your gaze by spending a few moments in prayer, and simply allow you to see me.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1024: This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity–this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels, and all the blessed–is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.
Written by Father Gabriel von Wendt, LC.
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