It is easy to go through life comforted that most of our sins go hidden from the world, but we would do well to remember that our sins are never hidden from God. In his homily on Romans, St John Chrysostom points out, “In this world one man is punished while another escapes ….it is not the same in the life hereafter.” (Homily 5 on Romans) This is because in this life, some sins are seen by others (ie we are caught) while other sins go unnoticed. This is not the case with God. He sees all as we understand in today’s Gospel lesson.
In the Gospel, (you can read the entire passage below) while it is not directly about being seen by God, we do understand that God is all-seeing, which is one reason that Nathanael believed He was God. If God could see Nathanael under the fig tree, He can see us in our sin.
This is the added benefit of surrounding ourselves with icons of Christ, as a mere reminder of His constant presence. In the same homily on Romans, St John Chrysostom points out how we are ashamed when our sins are sin by the most insignificant members of society (he references house slaves) but we are without shame standing in front of God. I was told as a child, if you can’t do something looking at an icon of Christ, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Just a thought as we prepare for the beginning of the Nativity Fast tomorrow.
At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." – John 1.43-54