THEME: BARTHOLOMEW THE GUILELESS
Today, we have a chance to ponder the life of St. Bartholomew, a holy disciple of the Lord who became a servant of the Gospel giving his life to preach it, as the great early Church historian Eusebius tells us, in India, which in ancient usage included: Arabia, Ethiopia, Libya, Parthia, Persia and India proper and then Greater Armenia, where he converted many people before being flayed alive by the barbarians in Albanopolis, on the west coast of the Caspian Sea.
We are privileged today, to listen to the Gospel of Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael because from the earliest days of the Church Nathanael (a first name which means “Given by God”) and Bartholomew (an Aramaic patronym that means “Son of Tolmay”) have been identified as the same person. The synoptics all mention Bartholomew, but never Nathanael; St. John uses Nathanael but never Bartholomew. And so it seems clear that the two included in the lists of apostles are almost certainly the same person.
In the Gospel narrative, we notice how Jesus at first sight describes Nathanael: “ Behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile.” Other translations say he had “ no duplicity.” So what does that mean? If one has duplicity or guile it means they are two-faced and cunning. They are skilled in the art of deception. This is a dangerous and deadly quality to have. But to say the opposite, that one has “ no duplicity ” or “ no guile” is a way of saying that they are honest, straightforward, sincere, transparent and real.
On sighting Nathanael, Jesus could see right away that he was forthright, honest, open, plainspoken, straightforward, upfront, earnest, innocent, and unpretentious. The Suffering Servant who was prophesied by Isaiah as a man in whom “no deceit was in his mouth” (Is 53:9) recognized Bartholomew as a man praised by Psalm 32:2 “Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
These are words that should be said about each of us as Christians, but can the Lord say this of us? Because, the reverse is the reality steering on our faces. We, the Christians of today are full of duplicity and deceit. We’re sheep in the morning and wolves at night. We play friends but behind are enemies. We smile with people but turn around to stab them in the back. We encourage colleagues to strive towards success but pray behind them for their failure. We call ourselves Christians on Sunday, but we’re the highest people who cut corners, siphon common goods and met out injustice from Monday to Saturday. The Lord desires today, that we emulate the example of St. Bartholomew by being straightforward Christians, honest, upright, open, sincere and unpretentious.
May the Lord bless+ this new week for us and grant success to the work of our hands. Amen!
Good morning and happy new week!