Come and See
I still recall as a young boy walking to our local grocery store, and one of my older brothers taking a “pit stop” to “check out” some crayfish. At the time, I had no idea what he was doing, or why he would be doing anything other than getting to the store as quickly as possible to add to our growing collection of baseball cards. Before I had the chance to ask him what he was up to, he invited me to come down to the creek to see what he found, “hey Joe, come down here, check this out”. I responded, “What did you find?”, and as far back as my memory takes me, I heard those words for the first time, “come and see”. So it was, I went down to the water, and found what he discovered, a great number of crayfish with pinchers twice the size of its body. My brother could have described to me what he found, but he knew if I was going to get the more enriched experienced of what he was going to describe, I had to see the crayfish with my own eyes; I had to hear those words, “come and see.”
From a neighborhood creek to Sacred Scripture, do we hear those all important words from Phillip to Nathaniel: “Come and see” (Jn 1:44). Phillip knew, on the heels of his own personal encounter with Jesus, the best response to Nathaniel’s probing question, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn.1:46), were those three words--that when you string together become a most powerful means of evangelization by invitation—“come and see” (Jn 1:46).
In point of fact, the invitation lies at the heart of evangelization. In our evangelization, we give reasons why we believe Jesus Christ is the cause for the hope inside of us (cf. 1 Peter 3:15), but there is still need of the invitation. Consider that Phillip was in “evangelization mode” with Nathaniel as he was letting him know they had “found the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law in Jesus of Nazareth” (Jn 1:45); a “discovery” that prompted the aforementioned question from Nathaniel: “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (an expected and fair question given Nazareth was on the outskirts of the roads of merchants and legions, and a region that by all accounts was considered dirty). It was out from this probing question concerning the home of Jesus that evangelization entered into the all-important stage of the invitation, “come and see.”
That being said, from encounter- to dialogue - to invitation, Phillip’s evangelization of Nathaniel would have been insufficient if it was not for Phillip’s robust enthusiasm that was bursting forth from his encounter with Christ; such enthusiasm is a golden thread throughout the gospel narratives.
It is common throughout the gospels to read of someone being cured of a sickness, or healed of an ailment, and out from that transformational encounter with Christ, demonstrate an eagerness to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world. Among others, consider the leper cured of his skin disease (cf. Mk 1:40-45). After Christ healed the man of his leprosy, he immediately shared the extraordinary news of what Jesus of Nazareth had done for him with all he came into contact with. So, when Nathaniel asks Phillip, “what good comes from Nazareth?” I am sure if Nathaniel’s path ever came across the cured leper, he would have heard those same words from Phillip, “come and see”, and in all likelihood, with similar conviction and ardor.
Let our lives be reflections of similar evangelization by way of invitation, an evangelization filled with ardor and conviction.