“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.”
Whenever a tree is mentioned in the bible, it is always a perfect time to study a litle botany ! Jesus saw Bartholomew sitting under a FIG TREE. Fig trees (Family Moraceae, genus Ficus) are among the first plants cultivated by man.They are known for their large, fragrant leaves and grow wild in dry sunny areas. They tolerate seasonal droughts common to the mid east.Fig trees have an aggressive root system which search out water. The trees have no visible flower, and are unique in that the trees first fruit appears before its leaves.Fig trees can grow quite large and form dense shade trees, they produce a cool pleasant environment perfect for rest and contemplation. Fig trees are symbolic of peace and prosperity and were common places for prayer.In Jesus’s time many who prayed under a fig tree were praying for that peace and prosperity for Israel. In their prayers they prayed for the coming of the Messiah. Likely that is just what Bartholomew was praying for, the salvation of his people. When Philip told him about Jesus, he was unimpressed and even a little harsh:Nothing good comes from Nazareth! Jesus though was impressed. He saw an honest person, free of deception and deceit; Perhaps when Bartholomew prayed, he was not flowery in speech but honest in intentions. When Jesus recognized this in him, Bartholomew recognizes Jesus as Messiah. He recognizes the answers to his prayers , the path to peace an prosperity through Jesus the Christ, exactly what Saint Bartholomew prayed for ; under a Fig tree.
The Fig tree is unique in that it bears its first fruit before leaves appear:Leaves are its display of splendor, its vestments. The fruit is the heart of the tree, its eucharistia , its thanksgiving.