On this day: Under the Fig Tree

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Bartholomew, who many believe is the apostle called Nathanael in John 1:45-51, today's Gospel.

"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 God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'"

Jesus saw Nathanael under a fig tree, a favorite spot for Jews to sit and pray. The fig tree is important in many religions. The Greeks associated Dionysus with the fig tree. "As Mohammed swore an oath on it, the fig tree is a sacred tree in Islam. In the Hebrew tradition, the fig tree symbolizes peace and prosperity. The fig tree is the first plant to be mentioned by name in the Bible: '[Adam and Eve] knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.' (Genesis 3:7) The fig tree is mentioned thirty-seven times in the Old Testament. Romulus and Remus were said to have sheltered under a fig tree where they were suckled by a wolf."

Flower and Tree Magic: Discover the Natural Enchantment Around You, by Richard Webster, Llewellyn, 2008.

Buddha attained enlightment while sitting under a fig tree.

Was Nathanael praying for Moshiach, as a true child of Israel would do every day?

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