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.” - John 1:47-49
At first read of this passage you may find yourself needing to go back and read it again. It’s easy to read this and think you missed something. How is it that Jesus simply told Nathanael (also called Bartholomew) that He saw him sitting under the fig tree and that was enough for Nathanael to reply, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” It’s easy to be confused about how Nathanael could jump to such a conclusion from the words Jesus spoke about him.
But notice how Jesus described Nathanael. He was one with “no duplicity.” Other translations say he had “no guile.” So what does that mean?
If one has duplicity or guile it means they are two-faced and cunning. They are skilled in the art of deception. This is a dangerous and deadly quality to have. But to say the opposite, that one has “no duplicity” or “no guile” is a way of saying that they are honest, straightforward, sincere, transparent and real.
As for Nathanael, he was one who spoke freely about what he thought. In this case, it was not so much that Jesus put forth some form of convincing intellectual argument about His divinity, He said nothing about it. Instead, what happened was that this good virtue of Nathanael, of being without duplicity, enabled him to look at Jesus and realize that He is “the real deal.” Nathanael’s good habit of being honest, sincere and transparent enabled him to not only reveal who Jesus is, but it also allowed Nathanael to see others more clearly and honestly. And this quality benefited him greatly as he saw Jesus for the first time and was able to immediately comprehend the greatness of who He is.
Reflect, today, upon how free you are from guile and duplicity. Are you also a person of great honesty, sincerity and transparency? Are you the real deal? Living this way is the only good way to live. It’s a life lived in the truth. Pray that God helps you grow in this virtue today through the intercession of St. Bartholomew.
Lord, help me to be free of duplicity and guile. Help me to be a person of honesty, integrity and sincerity. Thank You for the example set by Saint Bartholomew. Give me the grace I need to imitate his virtues. Jesus, I trust in You.