The Word in other words (2021) by Fr. Randolf Flores, SVD (Sacred Heart Parish Shrine, Kamuning, QC)
Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle of the Lord — August 24
Image source: wikimedia commons / Bartholomew the Apostle by Pyotr Basin
Today is the Feast of the Apostle Bartholomew. In the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) and in the Acts of the Apostles, he is mentioned as one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. His name is absent in the Gospel of John. His name, however, comes after Philip’s on all the lists of the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels except in Acts. Tradition, beginning in the 9th century, thus identified him with Nathanael.
In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, Philip is instrumental in bringing Nathanael to Jesus.
Fr. Raymond E. Brown’s commentary entitles the first chapter of this Gospel as “The Opening Days of the Revelation of Jesus.” Jesus’s identity as the Son of God is slowly disclosed before he formally begins his ministry in Galilee.
Previously, Jesus asked a question to the first two would-be disciples: “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38). This is an invitation to the readers to reflect on a more profound question, a Christological one— on the Logos/Messiah confronting those who want to follow Jesus.
And now a foundational invitation to Philip: Follow me! And Philip reveals that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus’ encounter with another would-be disciple, Nathanael, ends with the latter disclosing that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of Israel.
The story ends with Jesus, who alludes to his resurrection— the image of angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
The call to follow Jesus in John’s Gospel (a little different from the Synoptics) is to bear witness of Jesus to others. And the most effective way of Christian testimony is not in the public square but in the private witness of friend to friend, brother to brother, sister to sister.