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“How Do You Know Me?”
Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. 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: Open my heart Lord to your loving voice today. I seek you, I long for you, I hope in you, and I love you. Please give me an awareness of your presence as I approach you now in prayer, and allow me to see you face to face. Reveal your heart to me.
- “Can Anything Good Come from Nazareth?”: For Nathanael, otherwise known as Bartholomew, this was just another ordinary day. He could never have guessed that his life would change so radically after his good friend Philip approached him with the unbelievable news that the prophet spoken about by Moses had come. He questioned; he doubted. Why would someone so great come from such a small and poor town? David had led as a king; Joseph had saved his people by the impressive power given to him in Egypt. But Nazareth? Yet Nathanael trusted his friend Philip, and he went to see.
- “How Do You Know Me?”: Jesus publicly recognized Nathanael as soon as he saw him, saying, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael was surprised, taken aback. “How do you know me?” Yet the Lord knows who he calls. He dreams of us, and waits in expectation for that first encounter with us, we who will be his close friends. In his answer to Nathaniel, “I saw you under the fig tree,” he shows how he cherishes us in his thoughts and prayers. As Nathaniel looked into Jesus’s eyes, he saw that love revealed and experienced being known. When we encounter Christ in prayer, we proclaim like Nathanael, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
- “You Will See Greater Things”: Christ’s heart is deeply moved by our acts of faith in him, despite any prior reservations or doubts we may have had. He knows whom he chooses, and he longs for intimate friendship with us. When Nathanael acknowledged who Christ was, Jesus showed him where he longed to take him—to be with him in heaven: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Everything in our life is just an excuse to draw us closer to God in this life, and ultimately into the next. Nathanael’s life was challenging, and he would lay down his life through a brutal death. But as he looks back on his life from heaven, he knows well that it was worth it to make the choice to follow Jesus that day.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, forgive me for often asking if anything good can come from the humble and insignificant places and moments in my life. And when I doubt, please receive me with that same love that you offered Nathanael when he sought you out. Lord, I want to experience that I am loved and known by you. I can know it with my mind, but allow this deep truth to penetrate my own heart so I may love you profoundly. I want to follow you here and into eternity. Give me a glimpse of those “greater things” so that I may have courage and strength when harder moments come.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for you within my heart when challenges come, and rest in that place.
For Further Reflection:
“As we consider ourselves in the Lord’s gaze, we put aside any preconceptions we have of ourselves and imagine how God beholds us. We begin contemplation by being aware of God’s presence and knowing that he is already looking at us as we behold him. God is always beholding us with love and sees our goodness and beauty. He sees not only our exterior person, but our interior being at its deepest center. As we experience the Lord’s gaze, we become aware that we are deeply known and loved, that God beholds us as his beautiful creation” (Awakening Love, Father Gregory Cleveland, OMV, p. 78).
Lisa Small was consecrated to God within Regnum Christi in 2001, is the Communications Director for the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi in North America, and is the National Formation Director for the Regnum Christi Mission Corps.