You will see heaven opened. 

Under a fig tree.   That’s where Nathanael (Bartholomew) was when Jesus “saw” him.   What was he doing there?   Maybe eating lunch or thinking about his to-do list.   Maybe daydreaming.   Some have speculated that because it was traditional to study the Scriptures under a fig tree, Nathanael may have been meditating on God’s promises.   If so, it was the perfect prelude to meeting Jesus.

For centuries, God’s promises had sustained Israel with words of comfort, guidance, and hope.   A radiant bride, a city and temple shimmering with the glory of the Lord—images that pointed to a peaceful future when God would live among his people and make them a light to the rest of the world.

Nathanael must have drawn strength from reflecting on this life to come, even as he had to deal with Roman occupation.   Perhaps this gave him eyes to recognize Jesus as the “Son of God” and “King of Israel” who would set things right.   And Jesus replied, in essence:  “Keep watching.   Have faith.   You haven’t seen anything yet!”

That’s what Jesus tells us too.   Like Nathanael, we have beautiful promises of the life to come.   We even know that this life has already begun. Baptized into Christ, we have been born of water and the Spirit;   we have become children of God and citizens of heaven. Now, as St. Catherine of Siena said:   “All the way to heaven is heaven.”

Just as Nathanael sat under a fig tree contemplating God’s promises, it’s a good idea for all of us to set aside time for quiet, hopeful contemplation.   We can try to imagine what heaven will be like.   We can picture Jesus surrounded by the angels and saints.   We can even think about our loved ones who have gone before us and imagine them with Jesus, praying for us, cheering us on, and rejoicing every time we act in faith.

Go and sit under your “fig tree” today, wherever that may be: an armchair, your prayer corner, or the adoration chapel.   If you don’t have one, find the place wherever prayer comes easiest.   Lift your heart to the Lord and let his promises fill your mind.   Then be still and listen for his voice.

Word Among Us