Today is the Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle. He was martyred in Armenia. Nathanael is believed to be the same person as Bartholomew, whose name appears in the list of apostles in the Gospels. Philip is the person in today’s Gospel who went and told Nathanael “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
Nathanael means “God has given” or “gift from God”. Nathanael doubted that Jesus could be the Messiah when he first heard Philip describe him. However, he believed after he listened to Jesus.
In the Gospel, Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.”
The Gospels usually use very simple language. Jesus always spoke in simple, easy to understand words. But here is a word that is very different and is not a word that we would even use in our everyday use. Duplicity. What is duplicity?
The thesaurus has the following: deceit, deception, dishonesty, disloyalty, treachery, betrayal and many more. Jesus said that Nathanael had none of these attributes. This indeed was a great compliment. Jesus did not have any problem describing the Pharisees and leaders as hypocrites and here he identifies Nathanael as a sincere upright person who was honest, loyal and caring.
How often do we meet or know people who are deceitful, dishonest, disloyal and will betray you seeming without remorse? More importantly, we must examine our own lives to see if we are like that at times. We may not be overtly dishonest or disloyal, but when it is convenient, do we stray from the straight path?
As Christians, we strive to be close to God and follow Jesus’ teachings. It’s not easy. People give us so many opportunities to fail. But Jesus knows our hearts just as he knew Nathanael’s when he was under the fig tree.
We must live our lives so that Jesus will say the same about us as he said about Nathanael; “There is no duplicity in us.”