St. Bartholomew

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Bartholomew. He is not one of the Apostles about whom we know a great deal. We hear his name only when the Gospel lists the names of the twelve apostles and thus get no details about who he is.

Bartholomew traditionally has been identified with Nathaniel, who was brought to Jesus by Philip. Most of us remember his response when Philip tells him he has found the one of whom the prophets spoke: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.” Talking about Bartholomew/Nathaniel’s reaction, Pope Benedict says,

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. 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!” Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience…we ourselves must be personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus.”

Pope Benedict also suggest that very the scarcity of information we have about Bartholomew tells us something important. He suggests that Bartholomew “stands before us to tell us that attachment to Jesus can also be lived and witnessed to without performing sensational deeds.” Comforting.