Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael gives voice to his prejudice, a prejudice that could have closed down a fruitful avenue in his future. How often have we allowed past events to influence our current assumptions, which then hinder future possibilities? How many times have we let our prejudice predict the future? Haven’t we all—in our hearts, if nowhere else—concluded that someone won’t amount to much because of background, race, family, or our own contempt?
We’ve heard a lot about implicit bias lately. For example, we might say and believe in our racial neutrality, but scientific studies show that racial bias remains pervasive and invisible to the persons who suffer from it. We all have biases; we all risk discriminating on the basis of these judgments, despite our best intentions.
Philip chooses not to argue. Instead he invites the doubter to “come and see.” He cleverly undercuts Nathanael’s prejudice by inviting him to see for himself. Often we, like Nathanael, simply need to see for ourselves. Jesus expands our vision, allowing us to see life and others with “new eyes.” Life, in all its fullness and abundance, overwhelms our prejudice.
Following Jesus changes everything. It does not matter where we have come from; it only matters where we are going. We accept the invitation to “come and see.” See what came out of Nazareth, the place where Jesus began his healing ministry. Jesus of Nazareth—the world’s savior and our own.
O Holy One, teach me to recognize your presence in settings and among people that surprise me. Help me remove the blinders of prejudice. I yearn to see the world as you do and to embrace life as you do—with love and compassion. Amen.
We read the stories of Samuel and the calling of Jesus’ disciples in John, and it is easy to feel jealous. God spoke so directly into their lives that they should have had, it seems to us, full and unwavering confidence in their calling. Didn’t they have an unfair spiritual advantage over us? However, the psalmist reminds us that God knows and sees us individually just as well as God knew Samuel and Jesus knew his disciples. God has plans for us, even if they are revealed in less obvious ways. The reading from Corinthians is quite different in its message. Perhaps we can at least recognize that even if we never hear God’s audible voice, through scripture God still provides guidance for our lives.
• Read 1 Samuel 3:1-20. In what ways do you remain responsive to hearing God’s voice?
• Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. What sense of God’s involvement in your everyday life do you have?
• Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. How do you remind yourself of the spirit–body connection?
• Read John 1:43-51. When have you allowed prejudice to affect your decision about a person’s competency?
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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.