Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Feast of Saint Bartholomew—24 August AD 2014

Ordinary of the Mass

Latin Text

Epistle: 1 Corinthians xii: 27-31

    Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.  And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors?  Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.

Gospel: Luke vi: 12-19

    And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God.  And when day was come, he called unto him his disciples; and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles).  Simon, whom he surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,  Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who is called Zelotes,  And Jude, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who was the traitor.  And coming down with them, he stood in a plain place, and the company of his disciples, and a very great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast both of Tyre and Sidon,  Who were come to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases. And they that were troubled with unclean spirits, were cured.  And all the multitude sought to touch him, for virtue went out from him, and healed all.

Related Gospel: John i: 44-51

    Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.  And Nathanael said to him: Can any thing of good come from Nazareth? Philip saith to him: Come and see.  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him: and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.  Nathanael saith to him: Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered, and said to him: Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.  Nathanael answered him, and said: Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.  Jesus answered, and said to him: Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believest: greater things than these shalt thou see.  And he saith to him: Amen, amen I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.


    In today’s Gospel, after a night of prayer with His Father, we see Our Lord selecting the twelve men who would be His Apostles.[1]  Over time, He would gain additional followers—He drew crowds numbering in the thousands.[2]  He would send seventy-two men to preach in all the places He intended to visit[3]—quite likely there were others.  There were women as well as men—Mark mentions “Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joseph, and Salome:  Who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem.[4]

    He had many followers, but the Apostles were a group apart.  One would betray Him, but the choice of Judas was deliberate.  Our Lord knew how He would die—and, not that it excuses him, Judas was to be an essential part of that death.  The twelve, including Judas, were to be His priests—“high priests,” really, for they were the first bishops.[5]  To be chosen as an Apostle was a singular distinction, but it was not without danger.  All except Saint John would die excruciating deaths, and even John did not escape torture and exile.

    Today we celebrate the Mass of one of those Apostles—the one called Bartholomew.  You may know that when Jewish names begin with the word “Bar,” they are “patronymics”; that is to say that Bartholomew was so-called because he was the son of someone named Tholomew.  Scripture scholars are fairly sure that he is the same man mentioned in Saint John’s Gospel as Nathaniel.

    In his very first chapter John tells us how Nathaniel was brought to meet Jesus by his friend Philip, who told him: “We have found the one written about by Moses and the Prophets;  Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.”[6]  At first Nathaniel-Bartholomew was skeptical, not believing that anything good could come out of a backwater town like Nazareth.  But Nathaniel went with Philip, and was astounded that Jesus was able to describe the place where Philip had found him, “under a fig tree.”  Nathanael’s reaction was one of complete faith, perhaps with a touch of prophecy, he answered Jesus: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.[7]

    In the same passage we learn something about Nathaniel’s character.  Jesus Himself assured us that Nathaniel was “a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile.”[8]  Jesus judged him to be an honest man who would never plot to deceive anyone.  What a remarkable recommendation, coming from the One who knows all hearts.[9]

    Nathaniel-Bartholomew would one day see “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”[10]  The reward for his service as an Apostle would be to see the Son of God in His glory!

    But, like all the Apostles, his service would be arduous indeed.  The Divine Office tells us that he travelled first to India—a monumental over-land trip from Jerusalem, or perhaps a dangerous voyage around the Horn of Africa (if such transportation was available to him).  He established the Faith on the coast of India, to the west of modern day Bombay.  The historical record is sketchy, but one can imagine the difficulties of preaching the Gospel of the Son of God in a pantheistic country like Hindu India.

    On leaving India, he journeyed north-east-ward to Armenia, a journey that traversed modern Pakistan (perhaps Afghanistan) and Iraq.  In Armenia, Bartholomew succeeded in winning the King, the King’s wife, and the people of twelve cities to the Faith.  These mass conversions set off the pagan priests, who convinced the King’s brother to arrest and murder Bartholomew.  His martyrdom was particularly gruesome, being skinned alive, and then crucified.  Many accounts say he was crucified upside down—like Saint Peter, who was the other Apostle to correctly identify Our Lord as the Son of God.[11]  Other accounts say that Bartholomew was beheaded, much like the victims of the modern day savages of the Middle East.  Bartholomew’s relics were buried, first of all in Armenia, but today reside in his shrine on the Island in the Tiber, the river that enters Rome from the Mediterranean Sea.

    Together with Nathaniel, the son of Tholomeus, may God grant us the graces to profess the divinity and kingship of His Son in utter truthfulness, without concern for its cost to us, for the salvation of the souls of those who may hate us on earth, so that all of us may see the glory of the Son of God in heaven!


[1]   Gospel:  Luke vi: 12-19

[5]   Judas’ hand is on the table following the Consecration and Communion.  Luke xxii: 19-21

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