We see this beautiful encounter in the Gospel today, the story of the calling of Nathanael.
Our Christian life, the life of faith, always begins with an invitation.
It begins in friendship, in witness. One heart speaking to another heart about the love that they have found in Jesus.
This story that we hear today is from the early days of Jesus’ public ministry. Philip has just met Jesus and begun to follow him. Now he goes to invite his friend, Nathanael.
They both know the Scriptures, the writings of Moses and the prophets, and Philip tells Nathanael that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah they’ve been taught to hope for.
As we heard, Nathanael doesn’t believe him at first. But Philip is not discouraged. He says, simply: “Come and see.”
Philip makes this gentle invitation, and Jesus does the rest.
My brothers and sisters, Pope Benedict XVI is right: There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel! Nothing more beautiful than to meet Jesus!
He understood that the modern world is moving away from God, that faith is fading from the hearts of many people, that our society is growing cold and intolerant toward religion.
But he also knew that God is not finished with his creation, not done building his kingdom on earth. Jesus is still calling, still knocking at the door of every human heart.
Pope Benedict reminded us: the Church’s mission is Christ’s mission — to seek and to save the lost. It’s not just about popes and bishops, priests and religious. All of us share in this mission! Every one of us who has been baptized.
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Each of us is called — in our own way and in our own lives — to be like Philip. Speaking to others of our love for Jesus and our friendship with him. Calling others to “Come and see.”
It really is true: when we meet the living God in Jesus Christ and follow him, our life changes.
To be surprised by the Gospel is to discover the truth about where we come from, and what we are living for.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus knows and loves each one of us, just as he knew and loved Nathanael. We heard in the first reading today: “God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.”
And Jesus makes the same promise to you that he made to Nathanael: when you come to him, “you will see greater things.”
When we allow his love to fill our hearts — the gate of heaven stands open before us. We see with certainty that we walk in the light of his presence, in the company of angels and saints. The little things in our everyday lives become like a ladder leading us to heaven.