• Olivia M. Bannan

FEAST OF ST BARTHOLOMEW AUGUST 24, 2020



MASS READINGS:


A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 1:45-51


Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “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.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”



REFLECTION: Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “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.”


John is the only one of the Gospels that mentions Nathanael and not Bartholomew. The other Gospels mention only Bartholomew. Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles. Bartholomew worked hard with Philip in Turkey, Asia Minor, India and Armenia. He died a martyr flayed alive before decapitation or crucifixion.


St Bartholomew was a close friend of Philip and it was Philip that introduced Bartholomew to Jesus saying that he had found the Messiah. As Bartholomew approached Jesus, Christ said, "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.”


How does one understand this compliment? Jesus said he was a true child of Israel. No one likes duplicitous people: the cunning and the deceitful ones who will do anything to further what they want. So why would Jesus single out Bartholomew with this statement? Jesus had seen Nathanael under the fig tree, perhaps praying, reading or meditating. He certainly knew him well.


In Aleteia, an article explains these words of Jesus. Perhaps in not doing it justice, one can read the article in its entirety.


In Genesis 27:36, after Esau found out that his brother, Jacob, stole his inheritance and his blessing, exclaimed, " He has been well named, Jacob! He has now supplanted me twice! First he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing."(1)


Jacob, the future Patriarch of the Israelites, was renamed Israel by the messenger of the Lord after wrestling with him all night,....."because you have contended with divine and human beings and you have prevailed". Jacob embraced his identity as Israel, despite his dishonest start. Thus Bartholomew was the true child of Israel. (1)


In response to Jesus' praise, Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” In saying this, St Bartholomew became the first disciple to have professed that Jesus was the Son of God.


The Last Judgment (1534-1541) in the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. St Bartholomew is holding a scalpel in his right hand and is holding his flayed skin in the left hand. The face in the flayed skin is the face of Michelangelo.


God Bless You


(1)https://aleteia.org/2018/08/24/how-to-understand-the-compliment-Jesus-paid-the-apostle-bartholomew/











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