24 August – Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was probably a close friend of St. Philip, as his name is always mentioned in the gospels in connection with Philip, and it was Philip who brought Bartholomew to Jesus. He may have written a gospel, now lost, as it is mentioned in other writings of the time.
Someone preached in Asia Minor, Ethiopia, India, and Armenia and left behind assorted writings. Local tradition says it was Bartholomew.
– Patron Saint Index
The angel came to speak to me, and said, ‘Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.’ In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’
Come and see
I currently have a friend who has given up believing in the Catholic Faith because he wants God to appear right before him so that he can believe. He believes his five senses are the most reliable way of understanding the world. It is probably easy to engage in a philosophical discussion on whether one can trust one’s senses or one should only trust one’s mind. The readings of today seek the other party to trust God on the basis of faith as Philip invited Nathaniel (Bartholomew) to “Come and see”.
The faith we have is a gift which God has given us. When we reject this gift, we depend on a weaker form of knowing, for example, that of our senses. A person sometimes loses his faith because of doubt; or it could be because some have been hurt by others. This is indeed something which we can address because we need to tap on our faith to help revive the light within them. We first need to be their friend and understand why they are feeling this way. Only when we show our desire to get to know them as a person, can we then share with them the gift of Faith we have.
Jesus called Nathaniel a person incapable of being deceived. We can ask the Holy Spirit to grant us this gift too, of being able to see through the walls and barriers which our friends have put before us. They do so not to deceive us in the usual sense of the word but perhaps because they are in need of healing and so need us to hear them. May God continue to guide us in our lives and allow us to be like Nathaniel, incapable of deceit yet willing to lay down his life for the Faith.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: St Bartholomew, pray for us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who lend a listening ear to others.