January 5, 2023 –
St. John Neumann

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1 John 3:11-21  +  John 1:43-51

“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

As in yesterday’s Gospel Reading, we hear Jesus in today’s Gospel passage calling men to follow Him.  Today’s Gospel passage is from the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel account.  Jesus is only at the beginning of His three years of public ministry.  But in a way, you might say that what Jesus is doing in this week’s Gospel passages is a preparation for Pentecost.

Pentecost is sometimes thought of as the “birthday of the Church”.  Yet the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 could not have happened without the “first steps” that Jesus makes in this week’s Gospel passages.  Jesus knew that the simple men He chose would—almost to a man—suffer martyrdom many years later because of serving as the pillars of His Church.  Jesus knew how Philip and Nathanael would eventually die, even if they did not.  But their journey to sacrificing their very lives for Christ began with a few simple words:  “Come and see.”

There is a further point to take note of.  This point concerns the general theme of vocations.  Note that in the Gospel Reading, Philip calls Nathanael first, and then Jesus calls Him.  This sequence of events highlights an important truth of our Catholic Faith:  that God chooses—wills—to work through simple human persons like you and me.  God chooses to work through intermediaries:  “middlemen”, if you prefer.  God can choose to accomplish His will however He wishes, but often, He wishes that you and I be instruments of His will by inviting others to follow after Jesus.