First Reading: Revelations 21:9B-14
The angel spoke to me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you. Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom and speak of your might. Making known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is just in all his waysand holy in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.
Gospel: John 1:45-51
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of Godascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Can anything good come from Nazareth? Try replacing “Nazareth” with another place name that seems to fit. Maybe there’s a city you associate with crime or superficial living. Maybe there’s a part of your own community that you don’t like to be, where you would never live by choice. Every one of us can name some place that has this effect on us.
Enter Jesus, who is here to change our minds. He’s ready to open our eyes to the fact that God’s grace is found in every zip code, in every neighborhood, in every place we don’t expect it to be.
Can anything good come from Nazareth? This time, try replacing “Nazareth” with a situation. Can anything good come from my mom’s illness? My husband’s job loss? My child’s problems at school? Our struggles with infertility? My *!#! car that gave out on the highway?
Enter Jesus, who—once again—turns our initial reactions upside down. His grace is everywhere, even if at first glance (or second, or third) it is very hard to see.
I learned this during my two consecutive pregnancy losses, each of which was excruciating. It took me a while to see any good in these losses. At first, it seemed as though God had turned into some awful sadist who wanted to see how much pain I could bear. And I don’t want to claim that the eventual graces outweighed the initial losses; that’s too strong a statement for me to honestly make.
But in those dark times, I encountered the kindness of other women who had suffered miscarriages. I grew more aware that parenthood is not something to take for granted, because it does not always come easily. And I grew softer myself, as if the grief scooped out my insides but in so doing uncovered the depths of my capacity to suffer with others.
As my former pastor once said, God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but He does promise us a meaningful one. Every day bears this out, presenting us with some little or big challenge. But in the middle of it all, we encounter the Man who is Life itself. He is found in the places and situations where we least expect Him to be, and that is a gift indeed.
When in your life has something good come out of something bad (or seemingly bad)?
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here.