"The sincere" are welcome, but let them also be willing to accept conversion.
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Today’s readings can be found here.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, ‘Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.’”
This beautiful compliment Jesus pays to Nathanael in today’s Gospel shouldn’t distract us from a larger consideration. Indeed, this man, praised by Jesus for being authentic and guileless, is the same man who a moment earlier had revealed his prejudice, saying, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
The Gospel deliberately leaves the jarring character of this double aspect of Nathanael to remind us that while it’s already a blessing to live without masks, that in itself isn’t enough for us to be able to say that we live and think righteously. For example, Nathanael will have to abandon his prejudices and realize that the person he is about to meet is not only from Nazareth, but is also the answer to every person’s hopes.
Bartholomew/Nathanael is thus the patron saint of those who say, “I cannot pretend to be someone I’m not; I am as you see me.”
If on the one hand they’re telling the truth, on the other hand, they must stop believing that it’s enough to be sincere to be able to say that they are also on the right side of the truth. “The sincere” are welcome, but let them also be willing to accept conversion.
If for others, conversion consists in beginning to be sincere, for them it consists in ceasing to be self-congratulatory about their sincerity. For sincerity without the humility to repent is not a gift but a form of pride.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.