January 5

John 1:43-51

The Call of Nathanael

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

An old man in simple clothes and slippers entered a bank carrying a worn out bag. He hesitantly approached one of the bank tellers asking how to make a bank deposit. The teller, looking with contempt at the old man, rudely pointed to the section where one could get the bank deposit slips. She must have been thinking to herself rather mockingly how this creature before him could have some money to deposit in their prestigious bank. The old man, feeling insulted at the treatment he got, headed straight for the door instead and proceeded to another bank just across the street. At the door of the other bank, he was greeted nicely by a nice bank representative who politely asked what he can do for the old man. Told of the old man’s purpose, the bank representative helped him fill up the necessary forms to make a bank deposit and led him to a bank teller. Lo and behold to the surprise of the bank representative and the teller, the old man took out from his old bag bundles of money amounting to a good number of thousands to be deposited in his new account.

Wasn’t it said, “Don’t judge the book by its cover!” Well, our prejudices and biases often prevent us from seeing the beauty, the greatness and the potentials of the person before us. The story above shows such one prejudice. Another is judging others by their social background. Nathanael fell into such a trap when he blurted out, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” referring to our Lord’s hometown. The term we use for this is ‘generalization’ which is almost always unfair judgment of the other.

A very common source of our prejudices is our own upbringing. As we were growing up, we might have been told that such and such person was worth trusting or not. Isn’t it about time to review this and correct whatever mis-education we have had? It is most urgent for all of us to examine ourselves and purge the biases that do not allow us to see others in a better light and thus blocking us from loving them as we ought to. (Fr Emmanuel Menguito, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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A lawyer was visiting a country farm when he came upon a commotion in one intersection. Running to find out what it was he couldn’t near as a big crowd surrounded the area. Feeling clever and wanting to get close to the scene to assert his importance, he shouted, “Let me through. I am the son of the son of the victim!” the crowd made way for him, and lo and behold, lying in front of the car was a dead pig!

Nathanael must have eaten his words and cringed with embarrassment as Jesus addressed him with words of acknowledgment. Many times too, we feel so confident of ourselves within our comfort zones so that nothing and no one else matters. I believe we have a phrase for that in our vernacular, ‘sarado katoliko’ – so enclosed in ourselves and in our own ways that not even Christ and His grace could come in.

Advent had created a space in our hearts to be able to experience the fullness of Christ’s presence at Christmas. The season of Christmas continues to empower us to keep accepting Christ’s call and invitation to ‘come and see.’ It is his life that he shares. He has initiated this relationship and He sustains it and nourishes it. Our task is to entrust everything to Him and make that leap of faith.

May the beginning of the new year give us also the courage and the resolve to be instruments of his invitation by the witness of our lives. (Fr. Raymund Soriano, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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An American SVD missionary, after one week in the Philippines, came to me one day and, quite irritated, asked me: “Jerry, why does everyone want to know where I’m going, where I came from?” well, that’s the Pinoy in me and you wanting to know everyone’s whereabouts, goings and comings.

In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that wherever we are coming from, we are welcome to follow Him. What a consolation for us to know that the Lord, when He calls us, does not demand so much our qualifications (for who of us will be qualified) as our willingness to follow him. Yes, God calls not so much the worthy, but the willing.

Jesus opens up a whole new horizon for all of us. He tells us to leave everything and move on with Him. He sets before us a new road filled with meaning, hope and excitement along with trials and persecutions as His followers. Our only assurance is that along with the call, He gives the grace. Not only that, He assures us: “I will be with you, always.”

Where did you come from? Where are you going? You and I came from God, and you and I are going back to God via the Way, the Truth and the Life! (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: January 5

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