This weeks Gospel passage relates the calling of Phillip and Nathanael. It includes the notable line, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
But it Jesus’ fig tree statement that sticks with me. Sitting under a fig tree is code in the Bible for waiting for and reflecting on the Divine. What was it for Jesus to see Nathanael sitting under the fig tree? Did he walk by and see this stranger (if indeed Nathanael was a stranger) sitting and studying Torah. Perhaps Nathanael was reflecting upon a passage. He could have been doing the simple but difficult task to take time, be silent and be with the Divine, either through the law and the prophets or just through the silence.
Where was the fig tree? There is no mention that Jesus was in Galilee or Bethsaida when he called Phillip. Nor is there any mention of that when Phillip invites Nathanael to “come and see.” Perhaps it was in a village and Nathanael was resting from his labors. Perhaps he was “people watching.” But perhaps he was in a quiter space. Jesus had gone into the wilderness. Had Nathanael as well?
Was Nathanael already prone to seeking the silence and to discern the seeker in another? Such gifts come from sitting under fig trees.
(I was interrupted in the midst of this reflection. Now it is time to move on so I will post this, however brief.)