“Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.”
Here we are at the beginning of a work week – and for all of us at Creighton University, like many campuses throughout North America at this time of year– the beginning of a new school year. Undergrads begin Welcome Week, professional students begin their classes, and new faculty members have orientation. Beginnings are filled with so many emotions, questions, doubts and promises... even for those returning to campus. Newcomers wander the campus, searching for belonging and something familiar. Returnees are eager to reconnect with friends and come with resolutions to do better this year. So many expectations of ourselves and others, how do we hold it all?
Today is the feast of St. Bartholomew (otherwise known as Nathanael) and the Gospel is a story of beginnings…. the narrative of Nathanael’s introduction to Jesus and his call to follow him. Upon first reading of this passage, as well as the surrounding verses, I’m struck by how easy it was for those first followers to come to a knowledge and faith in Jesus. With John the Baptist’s brief testimony, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” Jesus begins to gather an interested group who in turn invite others. No resumes, no reference letters, no assessment of outcomes, no annual reports. They all drop what they are doing and, curious, follow him. Nathanael is the only skeptical one, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip replies with the invitation, “Come and see”. Nathanael, easily impressed because Jesus anticipated his coming, eagerly follows. Effortless, uncomplicated and undemanding.
Surely the disciples came to faith the way we do… over a long period of time, imperfectly, eager one time, hesitant the next; hearts full of doubt and full of hope; a history of broken promises and re-commitment. But that’s the rest of the story. Today is about the beginning; the invitation. Accepting an invitation to relationship is not easy. We long for the life that Jesus promises, but we carry the hurts and heartbreak of human relationships. Can we take the risk? Is our desire for fullness of life greater than our need to hold onto our wounds, the battle scars of human relationships? How is Jesus inviting me into relationship through the circumstances and people of my life?
As we begin this week -- classes, an ordinary work week, a new friendship, teaching, learning -- here are some questions to consider:
Pray these questions with the praise of the psalmist in your heart: “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.” Are these friends not radiant, like a precious stone? Or a secure foundation, like the massive walls of the city?
Jesus promises that Nathanael will see even greater things -- that Jesus himself will unite the heavens and the earthly, reveal the presence of the eternal within the temporal -- that all may know that the goodness and compassion of God are now carried in us, in our humanity and our everyday, mortal world. The kingdom is among us! Come and See!
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