‘Come and see’



In John 1: 45-51, Philip tells Nathanael, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote … Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Nathanael then makes his classic statement, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” His response sounds both dismissive and condescending. However, ignoring Nathaniel’s caustic comment, Philip simply responds, “Come and see” (John 1:46),

From that point on, Jesus takes center stage. In fact, He appears to admire Nathanael’s honesty, saying, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Jesus further explains to Nathanael that He already knew him because he had seen him under the fig tree. In an instant, Nathanael’s heart is opened, and he recognizes the speaker proclaiming, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

What an incredible moment, being face to face with the Messiah! Yet, I do not think that this is the most important passage of this Gospel. What I believe God is conveying to us is said in the three simple words of Philip’s invitation. “Come and see.”

We have all been on the receiving end of those words. Think of the many times someone has invited us to a Bible study, Adoration, a weekday Mass or some other encounter with God. Or, we may notice an opportunity in the bulletin for further growth of faith. Did we respond as Nathanael did or, instead, shun the invitation? Nathanael models an openness to seek a deeper faith.

On the other hand, Philip is also a model. Through him, God demonstrates to us how to be His disciple. Philip does not hesitate nor show discouragement after Nathanael’s initial response. Instead, with complete trust in God’s omnipotence, Philip issues Nathanael an invitation to meet the living Truth for himself. In my life, I am eternally grateful for Laura, Jeanie, Mary Kae and all the others who persisted when I resisted their initial invitations. Their perseverance changed the course of my life.

We often hesitate to invite people to delve deeper into our Catholic faith. Usually, that reluctance is based upon a fear of rejection or feeling foolish or appearing too holy Whatever the case, Philip demonstrates that our duty is to invite and pray. The rest is in God’s hands. First and foremost, we are on this earth to be Christ’s disciples and timidity can take no part in such a call.

If a farmer intends to harvest crops, he must first plant seeds. Does he hesitate because, in past years, he only had a 50% yield? Does he decide not to plant because of possible droughts, floods or storms that may destroy his work? No; farmers realize that they have little control over the elements. God is in control. Thankfully, season after season, the farmer faithfully sows the seeds into prepared earth; we, in turn, then have food for our tables.

One of my favorite YouTube clips is Susan Boyle’s original audition from Britain’s Got Talent. It is worth the 8-minute watch. While her performance is unexpectedly amazing, it is the judges who command my attention. The astonishment, the surprise and the utter joy on their faces at witnessing this seemingly misguided middle-aged women’s dream of being a famous singer is a mere preview of what knowing Christ can do in our lives. As Catherine De Hueck Doherty said, “To be invaded by God is joy … a reality more real than the air we breathe.”

We need the courage of Philip, Susan and the farmers. We are called to invite boldly and accept enthusiastically all invitations that will deepen our relationships with Christ. We are called to plant seeds: seeds of truth, seeds of joy and seeds of everlasting life for those God sets in our path.

Let us pause and pray that God will also use us to nurture those seeds and bring His eternal food to a starving world. May God bless the Philips of this world, whose faith is bold and pure. It is through their courageous invitations that our suffering world will be healed.