Thought for the Day – 24 August The Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle
“…Philip told this Nathanael that he had found “him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (Jn 1: 45). As we know, Nathanael’s retort was rather strongly prejudiced: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1: 46). In its own way, this form of protestation is important for us. Indeed, it makes us see that according to Judaic expectations the Messiah could not come from such an obscure village as, precisely, Nazareth (see also Jn 7: 42).
But at the same time Nathanael’s protest highlights God’s freedom, which baffles our expectations by causing Him to be found in the very place where we least expect Him. Moreover, we actually know that Jesus was not exclusively “from Nazareth” but was born in Bethlehem (cf. Mt 2: 1; Lk 2: 4) and came ultimately from Heaven, from the Father who is in Heaven.
Nathanael’s reaction suggests another thought to us: in our relationship with Jesus we must not be satisfied with words alone. In his answer, Philip offers Nathanael a meaningful invitation: “Come and see!” (Jn 1: 46). Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience: someone else’s testimony is of course important, for normally the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation handed down to us by one or more witnesses.
However, we ourselves must then be personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus; in a similar way, when the Samaritans had heard the testimony of their fellow citizen whom Jesus had met at Jacob’s well, they wanted to talk to Him directly and after this conversation they told the woman: “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world” (Jn 4: 42).
…To conclude, we can say that despite the scarcity of information about him, St Bartholomew stands before us to tell us that attachment to Jesus can also be lived and witnessed to without performing sensational deeds. Jesus Himself, to whom each one of us is called to dedicate his or her own life and death, is and remains extraordinary.”
Note: the name “Nathanael” means “God has given”.
Pope Benedict XVI – General Audience 4 October 2006
St Bartholomew Pray for us!