2 Epiphany – Year B

1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20); Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

“Love is a choice – not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretence or guile.’ – Carter Heyward

Blessed are those who have no guile, for they shall not beguile and treacherously trap anyone with fish bait, as the Greek literally implies. (see Greek below) So be Nathaniel, as he has been known down through the centuries, since Jesus declared him to be a person of no deceit (John 1:47). At first Nathaniel wonders if anything good could come from Nazareth. Who knows what was going on in Nazareth in those days for him to say such a thing! Why such a bad rap? However, Nathaniel changes his mind about Jesus, who was from Nazareth, when Jesus says he saw Nathaniel under the fig tree. What was he doing under the fig tree? Some ancient rabbis say that Adam and Eve did not eat from the forbidden apple tree, but from the prohibited fig tree. After all, Genesis only says it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). The bible never says what kind of fruit it was. So it is open to speculation.   In other places, sitting under your own fig tree was a sign of prosperity resulting from faithfulness (Isaiah 36:16). It seems like a lot goes on under fig trees. Isn’t it great that the bible is so full of paradoxical mysteries? We know we are getting close to the truth of life when we are confused by the unknown. But one thing is known for sure. Jesus sees guilelessness as a virtue; and Nathaniel is the model for us. Let us follow suit in our relationships. Let us first make the irrational choice to love. We don’t know what will then happen. But it will become difficult to be deceitful. What’s going on under the fig tree? It is safe to sit and see.


The word for guile or deceit is variously translated: treachery, fraud, cunning, duplicity, falsehood. This interesting Greek word means these things. However, the root meaning of the Greek word is “fish bait.” Fish bait is used to deceive the fish into thinking that it is safe food. Therefore, we have the derived meaning of “guile” or deceit”.


Such peace to eat figs!

No treachery. Come be seen.

Deceitful hooks none.