January 5, 2013

The Gospel Today

Memorial of St. John Neumann, Bishop

Jn 1: 43-51

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 the sky opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Reflection (Sem. Jorge A. Santiago, Jr.)

The meeting of Jesus and Philip in our Gospel today is very symbolic of how Jesus calls his disciples. When Jesus says to Philip, “Follow me,” it presupposes that He already has knowledge about Philip who is ready for discipleship and Philip follows. Immediately after the meeting, Philip tells Nathaniel about his encounter with Jesus which at first fails to impress the latter because he doubts that something good can come up from Nazareth.

As a seminarian, I consider the three scenes in the Gospel as part of my vocation discernment. First, the call of Jesus to Philip, second, how Philip tells Nathaniel about his encounter with Jesus and, lastly, the doubt of Nathaniel about the cultural environment of Nazareth from where Jesus comes. I believe that Jesus calls me to follow him by becoming a seminarian. For me, it is clear and irresistible. I feel invited to proclaim His goodness by loving and evangelizing others. As when Philip tells Nathaniel about his experience with Jesus, I also feel called to share the blessing of knowing Him by sharing my personal encounters and my relationship with Jesus to others. Lastly, like Nathaniel, sometimes I also doubt the wonderful experiences I hear from others, thinking that it sounds too good to be true, but in the end, becomes a believer.

I experience the calling, the sharing, and the doubting continuously as I go through the process of priestly formation. It makes sense how Jesus calls his disciples mysteriously. This calling is not exclusive for religious people but is for everyone willing to heed the call of Jesus, to those who are ready to share their encounters with others, and to those who doubt but still follow, but in the end, believe.

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