24 Aug


(A biblical reflection on the Feast of St. Bartholomew – August 24, 2012) 

Gospel Reading: Jn 1:45-51 

First Reading: Rev 21:9-14; Psalms: Ps 145:10-13,17-18 

The Scripture Text

Philip found Nathanael, and 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.” (Jn 1:45-51 RSV) 

The list of the apostles given in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) includes that of Bartholomew, whose feast the Church celebrates today. No other mention is made of this apostle in the Gospels.  Since Bartholomew is a family name, however, not a personal one, he is thought to be the one spoken of by John as Nathanael (Jn 1:45).

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus had invited Philip to follow Him (Jn 1:43), and Philip in turn called Nathanael to see “Him of whom Moses in the law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (Jn 1:45). Nathanael’s response – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46) – reflected the general attitude about this remote and insignificant village in Galilee.

Nathanael’s reaction was the product of his natural mind. Certain that nothing of merit could emerge from Nazareth, he immediately dismissed the possibility that Jesus could indeed be the Chosen One. Only Philip’s persistence – “come and see” – brought him into an encounter with Jesus that changed his life and led him to proclaim Jesus as “the Son of God” (Jn 1:49).

If our lives are to be changed so that we become faithful followers of Jesus, we too need to make the effort to “come and see.” We must be willing to put aside our preconceived ideas about God, our fears and our prejudices, our arrogance and self-sufficiency, and humbly ask Jesus to reveal Himself to us and to give us a deeper understanding of who He is as Lord and Savior.

Jesus thirsts for souls. He wants us to experience the intimacy with which He cares for us. A tax collector (Mk 2:13-17), a woman with a reputation for immorality (Lk 7:37-50), a Roman centurion (Acts 10:1-8), a thief (Lk 23:40-43), and a persecutor of Christians (Acts 9:1-6) all met Jesus. The recognized His love, knew a time of repentance and forgiveness, and their lives were changed at the moment for eternity.

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that You want to reveal Yourself to me more deeply. Give me an awareness of my need for you so that I may acknowledge Your work in my life. Help me to commit myself to You, and to spread Your truth everywhere. Amen. 

Jakarta, 21 August 2012 [Memoria of Saint Pius X, Pope] 

A Christian Pilgrim



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