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Tuesday, August 24, 1999

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St. Bartholomew

Revelation 21:9-14
Psalm 145
John 1:45-51

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the fig tree

"Jesus responded: 'Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see much greater things than that.' " —John 1:50

Bartholomew (Nathanael) was prejudiced against Jesus because Jesus came from Nazareth (Jn 1:46). But after Jesus mentioned He saw Nathanael under the fig tree, Nathanael changed completely, from prejudice to faith, and acknowledged Jesus as "the Son of God" and "the King of Israel" (Jn 1:49). Why was Nathanael so impressed by Jesus' remark that He saw him under the fig tree? What was Nathanael doing under the fig tree?

No one knows why the fig tree was so significant to Nathanael. Some Bible commentators mention that the fig tree is symbolic of the Israelite nation (see Mk 11:12ff). Thus Jesus' reference to the fig tree would have special symbolic significance.

Others see Jesus using the supernatural gift of knowledge, as He did with the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4:18). Jesus could have been noting a secret sin Nathanael committed under the fig tree (see 1 Cor 14:24-25).

Another possible interpretation is that Nathanael was praying under the fig tree, praying for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus presented Himself as the immediate Answer to Nathanael's prayer.

On this special feast day, let the Lord speak to you symbolically, prophetically and prayerfully. You'll never be the same.

Prayer:  Father, may I hear You say something today that changes my heart.

Promise:  "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." —Ps 145.18

Praise:  St. Nathanael believed Jesus and Jesus promised him great things.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, February 22, 1999

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 24, 1999