John 1:45–51 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”. With some small alteration that question could have been written just a few weeks ago. Can anything good come from those people who voted No on Issue 1? Can anything good come from those who voted Yes? In today’s gospel, Nathanael voices his preconceived opinion about those who come from Nazareth. But then, Philip invites him to “come and see”. We don’t know why Nathanael followed Philip. Was it idle curiosity? Was it trust in Philip? Whatever the reason, Nathanael followed…and found Jesus. What we see depends on where we stand. So, if we want to see something else, maybe we need to stand somewhere else.
Dr. Anthony Fauci served as the Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and became a household name starting in 1984 and until retirement a short time ago. In retirement interviews, Dr. Fauci has talked about his work on HIV/AIDS beginning in the early 1980s. During the 1980s AIDS rapidly moved through the gay community. The rest of the community responded in ways deemed inappropriate, you would hear “Well, of course, they are infecting one another”. To me these comments sounded like another version of “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
In 1989, Dr. Fauci was invited to the Gay and Lesbian Center in New York City to meet with members of the community. While reflecting on that meeting years later with activists who became his lifelong friends, Dr. Fauci stated that it was like going into the lions’ den. “There were 100 of you and only one of me!”. Dr. Fauci had set aside personal insults and negativity to listen to what they were saying, he says it changed him and his approach to clinical trials. Years later under President George Bush, he directed PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which he describes as the most impactful thing he did in his career, saving over 20 million lives in over 50 countries.
What if Anthony Fauci had not accepted the invitation to come and see? What if Nathanael had not accepted Phillip’s invitation to come and see? It takes a special kind of hubris to believe that where I stand allows me to see everything is good and true and holy, every place where the divine can be discovered.
The Holy Spirit blows where she will! always inviting, coaxing, leading. For the sake of our souls, for the sake of the world. May we have the courage, curiosity, and humility to accept the invitation to “come and see”.