The Vocation of St Bartholomew
(2012-08-24) John 1:45-51
Philip found Nathaniel 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 Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathaniel 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." Nathaniel 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 the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.
Petition: Lord, increase my intimacy with you.
1. The Call: It is traditionally understood that the Nathaniel St. John refers to is St. Bartholomew the apostle. Nathaniel, like all of us, receives a call to be an apostle. In Nathaniel’s case, the call does not come directly from Jesus, but through a mediator, Philip, who testifies to him who Jesus is. At first Nathaniel doubts, but he does not totally reject the idea and goes to meet Jesus. Christ calls many of us through a mediator: a friend, relative, consecrated person, etc. Even though there may be doubts, as long as there is some opening in us, Christ is able to work and draw us closer to himself.
2. The Profession of Faith: Nathaniel’s contact with Christ results in a profession of faith, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Here there is no doubt or skepticism. The encounter with Christ produces a clear and firm affirmation. Philip, the intermediary, drops out of the picture and Nathaniel has a direct and strong personal relationship with Christ. Nathaniel becomes a convinced apostle. So too, even though we may have come to Christ through intermediaries, we gradually begin to base our faith on our own personal experience of Christ.
3. Greater Things: Nathaniel – St. Bartholomew – went on to become one of the Twelve Apostles. Tradition has it that he preached the Gospel in India and Armenia where he died a martyr, flayed alive and beheaded. No doubt it was his insight of faith, his perception of the greater things that gave him the strength and fortitude to preach the Gospel and die a martyr. From his first simple encounter with Christ he became a great saint who lived his life in profound union with God.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know that sometimes I can be a skeptic, not trusting that you can transform my life. So often I have these simple prayerful dialogues with you; please help me so that these small conversations can blossom into a firm profession of faith and a tenacious apostolic zeal.
Resolution: I will pray the Creed sometime during the day to renew my faith in Christ.