Good morning, happy Tuesday, and many blessings.
Today’s Gospel (John 1:47-51) presents the dialogue between Jesus and Nathanael in which the following phrase appears: “In all truth I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of Man“.
I also learn in this Gospel that Jesus is never finished with doing good! Nathanael was promised more of the good things of God, at a time when he was in the fullness of consolation. With Jesus the best is always yet to come. Our prayer time is opening ourselves in words and in silence to the best of God's love, like a couple of many years' love can find greater joy and fullness in love of the later years.
Something that always impresses me is that Jesus always recognizes us, but we do not always recognize him. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep—he recognizes who we were meant to be, children of God (1:12), in the tangle of our current lives. The goal of the gospel is to equip us to recognize his life within ourselves and the world. "These things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name" (20:31). Our task is clear—with God's help, we are to enhance our facial recognition skills. Knowing Jesus is present in every moment, every person, every situation, we are to be on the lookout for him, recognizing his presence and influence throughout each day.
This story also reminded me that after Jesus' resurrection, Mary does not recognize him in the garden, mistaking him for the gardener, until he calls her by name (20:16). He already knows her. They have met many times before. So, an appropriate response from Mary would not be to put out her hand to shake his and to say, "Good morning. My name is Mary. I don't believe we've met." An appropriate response for her and for us is, "I recognize you. I believe we have met many times before."
And the Gospel also reminded of the big role our angels play in our daily struggle to ascend the ladder to heaven. While we usually think of angels as "messengers of God" – like Gabriel and Michael – they are also instruments through whom God manifests His great love and caring for each one of us, watching and protecting us from evil.
There is another powerful lesson in this Gospel and that is the people whom Jesus calls are ordinary people—but Jesus will use them to change the world. That should hearten us when we assess the strengths and weaknesses of the people in our congregations—and when we assess our own personal strengths and weaknesses. We might be ordinary, but God often chooses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.
I want to conclude this reflection with three questions that have arisen: Have you already had some encounter which has marked your whole life? How have you discovered the call of God there? Have you been interested, sometimes, like Philip, to call another person to participate in the community?