Dear Friends! What happened there between Jesus and Nathanael because it seems me missed something as we witness a change in Nathanael’s attitude, from a skeptic he moves to be a believer. If somebody told you: “I know what you had for breakfast or I know what a shampoo you are using.” would you call such a person a god? I don’t think so. So, what happened in the encounter we just saw? When Nathanael was talking to Jesus, he put together pieces of information about the promised Messiah who was to come. The Messiah was the figure who was awaited and longed for. Many generations of the people of Israel treasured prophesies from the Old Testament about the Messiah. One of those ancient prophesies was of the Isiah: “A soot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a brunch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of King David who started the Royal dynasty in Israel. However in Jesus’ time there dynasty was long gone. King Herod wasn’t the descendent of David. The dynasty of David was like a cut tree with a dry, dead stump reminding of its former glory, but Isiah was saying that this dead stump of David’s dynasty will see a brunch growing out of it, the promised Messiah.
As Jesus’ time was coming prophesies became stronger. One of the last prophets Zechariah wrote God’s words: “Listen, I am going to bring my servant the Branch. On that day you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.” and “Thus says the Lord: Here is a man whose name is Branch, because he shall branch out in his place and he shall built the temple of the Lord.”
There is even more to contemplate: Nazareth in Hebrew means branch. When Nathanael was talking to Jesus he was putting together the pieces of that ancient puzzle. He knew prophesies of the old like all his country people did. Jesus words: “I saw you under the fig tree” didn’t mean that he spied on Nathanael and saw him a few hours before but Jesus was speaking about the future. The fig tree it was Our Blessed Lord himself. Nathanael under the fig tree meant that the man was to live in a closeness to Jesus. He was to have a close faith relationship with the Lord. That’s why Jesus described Nathanael as free from the power of sin because that nearness to Jesus was to set the Apostle free. When Nathanael came to Jesus Nathanael was a sinner but Jesus was seeing the future of the man. It must have been something that Nathanael wanted to experience in his life because he stuck with Jesus from then.
My Sisters and Brothers!
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary resembles the event from the Gospel of John. I am over the moon that our Polish Bishops have decided that the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception isn’t moved to Monday but is to be celebrated on the day. I am saying that not simply because I am an Oblate of Mary Immaculate and I love this feast but because the feast holds a powerful message for us. So what are we celebrating today? First let’s look at some dates. We will start with September 8. It is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If we go backward 9 months as it is the length of pregnancy we are arriving at December 8. Today the Church remembers the day when a baby girl was conceived in the womb of her Mother St Anne. The baby girl was to be known as the Virgin Mary. What was so unique about her conception? Mary was conceived without original sin. She was free from the condition that makes it easier for us humans to do evil then good, to reject God than to serve him. That’s why the one who’s Immaculate Conception we are celebrating this Sunday didn’t commit any sin in her life either. Using the event from st John we can say that God saw Mary under the fig tree which is the image of Jesus Christ in such closeness that there was no room in her for sin. God saw that many millennia before even her parents were born. That’s why Mary Immaculate is depicted crushing the head of serpent- Satan. He didn’t harm her by leading her into sinning.
Dear friends! Jesus who looked at Mary and preserved her from sin, Jesus who looked at Nathanael and saw him overcoming sin, the same Jesus is looking at us today and he sees us under the fig tree too. He sees us very close to him and that’s why St Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians wrote to Christians: “Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be spotless, and to live through love in his presence.” The eyes of Christ have nothing to do with eyes of some people who look at the elderly, terminally or mentally ill and say that the solution for those people is euthanasia. They even claim that the sick and elderly want to be euthanized. But I am asking: “Why do they want to be euthanized?” Because the eyes of those around them say very clearly: “You are an obstacle for our society to be beautiful and perfect. You look bad, you smell bed. You should die. You don’t feet to our nice society.”
Jesus could turn away his eyes from us as there is so much sin and weakness in us. However he has never done that. He looks at us and talks about our future or more precisely he proposes us this future: “I saw you under the fig tree.”
Let us pray so that Immaculate Mary could intercede for us so that we could stay in this closeness to the Lord that has been offered us.
To finish this talk I would like to show you a small statue of our Lady. It is a copy of the statue which St Eugene de Mazenod blessed on August 15, 1822. At that time St Eugene was suffering a lot. The Order of Missionaries he founded a few years earlier was going through some difficult moments. Lots of people were against St Eugene. That day after the blessing he was praying in front of the statue and the statue became alive, Mary smiled to Eugene. At instant new life entered the man. His hear was filled with grace to look beyond difficulties and to focus on working for Jesus.
If today your heart is hurting because of your sins or because of some problems and issues that overwhelm you look at the Immaculate and may you find faith to see beyond these things that cause the pain in you. Jesus saw you under the fig tree, that’s your future don’t allow anyone to convince you otherwise.