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Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, be with me as I contemplate the words of Scripture. Deepen my understanding of how well you know me.
- Skeptic to Apostle: Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Bartholomew. Scripture scholars believe that Bartholomew and Nathaniel are the same person. Bartholomew was his family name, meaning “son of Tolmai.” It appears that he was friends with Philip who invited (found) him and told him about Jesus. His immediate and spontaneous response was skepticism: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Luckily for Nathanael, Philip dismissed his initial disbelief and told him to “Come and see.” What Nathanael “saw” would change the course of his life forever.
- Jesus Sees Him: After days of reflecting on Jesus’ calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, we might find his encounter with Nathaniel a breath of fresh air. Jesus saw Nathanael and recognized a man of integrity, saying, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Despite his initial skepticism, Nathaniel opened his heart to encounter the truth. His reward was this intimate greeting from the Lord. Jesus can enter intimately into any soul that is open to “come and see.” Imagine the great pleasure and rest the Lord takes in souls of this type.
- Profession: After Jesus revealed that he knew Nathanel, Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” This is the first recorded confession of belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior. His profession of faith propelled him into instant discipleship, giving his words an intrinsic and dynamic value. He would go on to become a witness to the resurrected Christ and the Ascension. The Church’s tradition claims that Nathanael evangelized northern India and was crucified upside down, as an act of humility, in Albania.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, like the apostle Nathanael, grant me a sincere and humble heart that is open to receiving your word and the invitation to be your disciple.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on the sincerity of my heart and ask for the grace to be “without deceit” like Nathanael.
For Further Reflection: “It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal” (St. John Paul II, from his address on the 15th World Youth Day, August 19, 2000).
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”