One tells us that a certain diet soda is good for us. Another tells us how we should crave a certain kind of fast food. Another tells us to ask our doctor if that medication is right for us. Another tells us that our truck needs more horsepower than our neighbor’s. Still another tells us that a certain face cream can make us look younger. It all sounds like the advertisers have our best interests in mind, doesn’t it?
No matter how susceptible we are to these advertisements, most of us will most likely agree that there is a lot of duplicity taking place. Duplicity, according to Dictionary.com, is “deceitfulness in speech or conduct; speaking or acting in two different ways concerning the same matter with intent to deceive; double-dealing.”
Having an advertising track in our Journalism major here at Creighton, it is obvious that there is a need for advertising in the communication media. Advertising helps to get the word out about products and services that are available, and to help businesses market their products effectively.
However, the top priority of many major advertising campaigns appears to be more about clear profits than about clear communication. When the stakes are high, we can expect the waters to be muddied, the air to be filled with smoke, and the writing on the wall to be smudged beyond legibility.
To motivate us to buy something we do not really need.
That’s why it is refreshing to read today’s Gospel passage. Nathanael, sitting under his fig tree, says about Jesus “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” We are inclined to think, “Wow, he just insulted the Son of God! Just wait until Jesus gets a hold of him!”
Instead, Jesus praises him because of his lack of duplicity.
Why? Because Nathanael was telling the truth – his truth. He was not interested in earning a spot in Jesus’ entourage. He was not marketing himself, trying to convince Jesus that He needed him at his side. He had no duplicity in him.
Nathanael’s only fault was that he was ignorant. He was born and raised in an environment that was obviously at odds with the people of Nazareth. But because Jesus knew what was in Nathanael’s heart (having seen him under the “fig tree”), He knew his prejudice against Nazarenes was based on misinformation.
And in a heartbeat, Jesus educated him. It had an immediate impact: Nathanael became a follower.
In the first reading as well, we are told “let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
Words and speech do not have true impact. It is the zeal and love that is in our hearts, as reflected in our deeds, which catch Jesus’ attention. In their first meeting, Jesus ignored Nathanael’s prejudicial slur, and instead recognized his love of truth and good deeds.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if television commercials were less about duplicitous words and speech, and more about good deeds and simple truth? Maybe then we’d be hearing:
“It’s diet soda. But the best diet beverage is water.”
“I love this fast food. But I love myself more, so I’m not going to eat it!”
“Ask your doctor if it is right for you. Better yet, wait until your doctor thinks you need it.”
“This face cream will make you look younger. But what’s wrong with looking your real age?”
“This huge truck has more horsepower than any other truck in its class. But since most of you are just driving to work and back, why not take the bus, instead?”
Now those are commercials worth watching!
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