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.’
I saw you under the fig tree.
The fig tree is one of the few trees mentioned specifically in the bible several times. It is symbolic and a sign of peace and prosperity. With its large leaves, the fig tree provides pleasant shade and shelter. I am making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in September, and might have a chance of visiting one of these fig trees.
God knows us before we know ourselves. How easy or difficult is it to trust in Him and in His plans for us? How do we even know what is His will for us? How do we discern His voice over others?
I’ve been struggling with faith of late. Thoughts have crossed my mind that perhaps it is easier to just follow the ways of the world and indulge in its hedonistic pleasures, rather than try and be Christian and follow the Word of God. After all, the rest of the world doesn’t think it to be wrong, right?
Struggling with relationships, with work, with life in general, I’m reminded that I can only draw strength from the Eucharist. But I am also reminded that I have to be in a state of grace in order to receive Jesus. In other words, most hedonistic pleasures would be considered sinful. Hence, the confliction.
But there is also God’s timing, or coincidence perhaps — struggling to write this reflection piece but still forcing it out anyway; wanting to take a back seat with my church community but having been asked by two different persons to serve in other roles in the ministry; is saying ‘no’ akin to saying ‘no’ to God? Is this God’s providence to give me a safe harbour should I be tempted to stray again?
So many questions, so how do I know what the answer is? How do I have the conviction like Nathanael to say “Yes, you are the Son of God.”? Is this what faith means?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Kristel Wang)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to grow in faith. Teach us to draw strength from you always, to run to you first. Guide us to trust in you and your will, especially when it is difficult.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending guardian angels to watch over us. May we recognise the good in all things big and small. Amen.