ST JOHN NEUMANN, B. (Memorial) White
John was ordained on 28 June 1836 and sent to Buffalo. There the parish priest, Father Pax, gave him the choice of the city of Buffalo or the rural area. John chose the more difficult country area. His parishioners were from many lands, but John knew twelve languages and worked with them all. He joined the Redemptorists, taking his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841, the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. He became Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. John Neumann was the first American bishop to be canonized.
First Reading: 1Jn 3:11-21; Psalm: 100 R. v. 1; Gospel: Jn 1:43-51
COME AND SEE
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46)
Philip was so overjoyed to have encountered Jesus. He couldn’t hold his joy but decided to share this experience with Nathaniel. Nathaniel, a true Jew, laughed off the news of Philip due to the common opinion held by the Jewish people about the entire region of Galilee of which Nazareth is a city in that region. Historically, no prophet had ever emerged from Galilee (Jn 7:52). This unkind record presented Nazareth and the entire region of Galilee as a people so insignificant and dejected. Some even considered their exclusion as a sign of punishment for their wickedness. This explains Nathaniel’s statement, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
We can sometimes be influenced by prejudice not because we wanted to, but because we grew up to learn and accept it as true because of the generality of the opinion. Philip was able to break away from such prejudice by experience. But Nathaniel was still held down by it in the absence of an experience that contradicted his held opinion. Philip then said to him, “Come and see.” This was the changer. Nathaniel’s encounter with Jesus erased his long held opinion about the people of Galilee. In fact, he openly confessed before Jesus, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Do we give experience a chance in life? It is the changer and corrector of false opinions. Can we set aside our prejudiced opinion about a people or someone and get to experience them first? History or the past does not completely define a people. Every generation has a fresh page to write their own story. Experience should be the right lens to read this story. Even in our faith life, we cannot change a person by what we say or what they hear. They only need to see what we want them to become and their story would take a different turn. This is what Jesus wants from us. Change of opinion happens by experiencing someone or a thing. Conversion happens by experiencing God.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see in one another the true reflection of who we are. And help us to accept each other despite our differences. Amen.