The Nathanael in us

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, originally known as Nathanael, offers us hope of also becoming closely related to Christ despite all the defects and weaknesses that we have.

The story of his calling as an apostle (cfr. Jn 1,45-51) is both amusing and uplifting since it clearly tells us that we too can be called to be an apostle and to be intimately involved in Christ’s continuing work of redemption in spite of all the warts we all have.

Christ described Nathanael as a “man with no guile” because he was quite spontaneous in his raw reaction to the news that a friend of his, Philip, told him. But it was also this being a “man with no guile” that made him to immediately rectify himself when Christ told him something that must have been in his mind for a while.

Nathanael embodies the ordinary person who, in spite of warts and all, still has that basic, irreducible trait of exposing his heart, no matter how defective, to the truth. He does not run away nor hide from it.

He is truly a man with no guile, no pretensions, no need for covering. Except for the normal need for discretion and modesty, he is completely transparent. What you see is what you get.

That’s why you immediately feel good every time you meet such persons. They always exude such welcome and wholesome aura about themselves in spite of their imperfections. They contribute in making society more at peace and in harmony.

Children are such persons, though their being guileless is due to their innocence and lack of exposure to the world. But when you see such quality in a person who is already exposed to the world, then you really feel good.

Let’s remember and imitate St. Bartholomew in his simplicity of heart and sincerity. His story shows that before we look for the truth, it is God first, Truth himself, who looks for us.

Once we find it, let’s earnestly engage ourselves to it, never playing around with it to serve our self-interest, but rather conforming ourselves steadily to its requirements.

This is when we can see more things, just as our Lord said: “Blessed are your eyes because they see…. For amen I say to you, many prophets and just men have desired to see the things you see, and have not seen them…” (Mt 13,16-17)

Otherwise, we will get our just deserts. Let’s remember St. Paul’s warning: “Because they receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved, God therefore shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying.” (2 Thes 2,10)

Let’s try our best to be always simple, yet shrewd but not complicated. Let’s not be daunted by this undeniably difficult combination of qualities we all ought to have. There’s God’s grace to help us. As long as we also do our part, things would just jell.

The fact is that Christ tells it to us very clearly. “Look, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” (Mt 10,16)

Indeed, we cannot deny that we are in an increasingly complicated world. There are now many smart people around, quick to rationalize their actions. This is especially true among our political leaders, who in their quest for power, will do everything—mostly unfair means and reasonings—to gain or keep that power.