CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 24, 2010

P42_Christ_with_rizaGospel reading of the day:

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 on the gospel reading: We celebrate the feast of Batholomew, Apostle. The notion that Batholomew and Nathaniel are the same apostle is a relatively late development in Christianity, traced to the ninth century. Whether or not Batholomew and Nathaniel were the same person, the gospel passage that the Church gives us to read today does permit some observations about Jesus and the reaction of people to him.

Over and over again throughout the gospels, we see that Jesus excited interest in people. In an age without telephone, television, radio, or Internet, news had to travel by word of mouth, and the scene that the gospel presents to us today well must have been how news about Jesus traveled in the towns and villages where Jesus preached.

Philip tells Nathaniel that Jesus is the son of Joseph of Nazareth and wonders whether Jesus might be the one foretold in the Law and the Prophets. Nathaniel, without having met Jesus, expresses a bias against Jesus because of the place where Jesus grew up. We know such reactions to people are common even in our time: it requires no explanation to understand Nathaniel’s line of reasoning.

But even so, when Nathaniel encounters Jesus, he is impressed. Jesus says a few words that, while mysterious to us, were quite compelling to Nathaniel. In an instant, Nathaniel is won over.

Jesus had a short ministry. But in a brief period of time, he stirred sufficient conviction in a small group of followers that they dedicated the rest of their lives to talking about what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they looked upon and touched with their hands concerning the Word of life. Who Jesus was must have been quite compelling to people who were disposed to hear his message and believe in his signs, and doubtless, given the interest he stirred, a chance encounter with him frequently was all the evidence someone needed to rearrange their entire lives. Such was the power of the man then even as now. We too can pray ever more deeply to hear, see, and touch the mystery given to us in the preaching that has come down to us from the apostles, that it enliven in us prodigies of faith, hope, and love.

Saint of the day: The name “Bartholomew” appears in the New Testament only on lists of the names of the twelve apostles. This list normally is given as six pairs, and the third pair in each of the synoptic gospels is “Philip and Bartholomew.” John gives no list of the Twelve, but refers to more of them individually than the Synoptics. He does not name Bartholomew, but early in his account (John 1:43-50) he tells of the call to discipleship of a Nathaniel who is often supposed to be the same person. The reasoning is as follows: John’s Nathanael is introduced as one of Bartholomewthe earliest followers of Jesus, and in terms which suggest that he became one of the Twelve. He is clearly not the same as Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Thomas, Judas Iscariot, Judas (not Iscariot, also called Lebbaeus or Thaddeus), all of whom John names separately. He is not Matthew, whose call is described differently (M 9:9). This leaves Bartholomew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes. Of these, Bartholomew is the leading candidate for two reasons:

(1) “Bar-tholomew” is a patronymic, meaning “son of Tolmai (or Talmai).” It is therefore likely that he had another name. “Nathanael son of Tolmai” seems more likely than “Nathanael also called James (or Simon).”

(2) Nathanael is introduced in John’s narrative as a friend of Philip. Since Bartholomew is paired with Philip on three of our four lists of Apostles, it seems likely that they were associated.

We have no certain information about Bartholomew’s later life. Some writers, including the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, say that he preached in India. The majority tradition, with varying details, is that Bartholomew preached in Armenia, and was finally skinned alive and beheaded to Albanus or Albanopolis (now Derbent) on the Caspian Sea. His emblem in art is a flaying knife. The flayed Bartholomew can be seen in Michelangelo’s Sistine painting of the Last Judgment. He is holding his skin. The face on the skin is generally considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo.

Spiritual reading: One thing is certain, whoever honestly wants to love God already loves him. (The Need and Blessing of Prayer by Karl Rahner, S.J.)

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