August 24, 2019
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University's Department of Journalism, Media and Computing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
Lectionary: 629

Revelation 21:9b-14
Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
John 1:45-51

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“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” - John

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

I was hanging out with Nathanael and some other friends from Cana when I heard, him trashing Nazareth. That wasn’t too surprising since Nazareth is only half an hour’s walk away and it’s our rival.

But, Nathanael wasn’t just running his mouth and trying to get attention like usual. He and his friend, Philip, were having a serious conversation about the new religious movement that Philip has joined. Philip’s always been a pretty even keel guy so his joining this group seemed really odd.

Philip was trying to sign up Nathanael but it was tough since Jesus, the movement’s leader, is from Nazareth. Finally, after Nathanael dissed Nazareth, Philip lost patience.

“Come and see,” Philip told him. Why not?  Nothing else was going on in town. I followed at a distance to see what my buddy would do.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he started feeding him a line that I knew Nathanael would never resist.
“Here is a true child of Israel. There’s no duplicity in him.” Jesus told him.  Nathanael is a sucker for anyone who makes him feel important so he asked Jesus, “How do you know me?”

Jesus told him that even before Philip started to recruit him into the movement, he had seen him under the fig tree. Instantly Nathanael was all in and told Jesus that he’s the Son of God. Just like that!

Then Jesus promised him what I thought were crazy things like seeing angels.

At that, I was out of there. But I had to admit Jesus sure knew how to meet Nathanael where he was. I’m as skeptical as anyone but Jesus seemed awfully real. I don’t want to change my life by following some wandering rabbi but I can’t get Jesus out of my mind.

Note to readers: A couple of quick questions fed this reflection: who was Nathanael (I had only vaguely heard of him) and where was he from? What explained his disdain for Nazareth? When I Googled Nathanael and learned he was from Cana the passage made sense, especially after I learned that:

•Cana was three miles from Nazareth so the two probably had a typical small town rivalry
•Philip and Nathanael were friends and Jesus had told his new apostles to recruit their friends as disciples.

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