Wednesday, August 24, 2005

can anything good come out of nazareth? come and see.

Today, August 24, is the feast of St. Bartholomew, the Apostle of our Lord.

Bartholomew is that Apostle who is also called Nathaniel. For Nathaniel is his true name, whereas Bartholomew is his patronymic, derived from Bar-Tolomai, that is, Son-of-Tolomai. The Gospel according to John hath no mention of any Apostle by the name of Bartholomew, but speaketh of Nathaniel as gbeing led to Christ by Philip; whereas the other Gospels speak of Bartholomew and his fellow Philip, but make no mention of Nathaniel. Hence he was that Galilean of whom John saith: Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, we have found him of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathaniel made answer: Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? To whom Philip replied: Come and see. And when Jesus saw Nathaniel coming unto him, he said: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. Whereupon Nathaniel asked: Whence knowest thou me. To whom, in answer, Jesus made mention of something whereof only Nathaniel had knowledge, most likely a secret struggle as to his vocation, saying: Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Whereupon this man, whose goodness Jesus commended as a true IOsraelite, and a man without guile, made his allegiance, saying: Rabbi, thou art the Son of God! thou art the King of Israel!

There are no historical records of the Apostle Bartholomew except in the Scripture. But the popular tradition concerning him is as followeth. In the division of the world among the Apostles it fell to his lot to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the region which the ancients styled Hither India, which was a name applied to parts of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and the lands adjoining. And he went thither, and preached the coming of the Lord Jesus, taking with him, for their instruction, the Gospel according to Matthew. When he had turned many in that region to Jesus Christ, and had endured many toils and woes, he came into the Greater Armenia. According to the unanimous tradition of the later historians of Armenia, that country was the place of his passion and death. For it is said that he there brought to the Christian Faith Polymius the King, and his wife, and likewise the inhabitants of twelve cities. This provoked a great hatred against him among the priests of that nation, who so stirred up Astyages the brother of King Polymius, and inflamed him against the Apostle, that he savagely ordered Bartholomew to be flayed alive and beheaded; under the which martyrdom he gave up his soul to God.

His body was buried at the town of Albanopolis in the Greater Armenia, where he had suffered. His relicks are reputed to have been carried hither and thither in after times, for example: to the island of Lipari; and then to Benevento; and lastly, the Emperor Otho III brought some of them to Rome, where they were laid in the church dedicated to God in his name on the island in the Tiber. And his feast is kept on August 24th, the traditional date of the translation of these last-named relicks. He is revered as the Apostle of the Armenians, and is invoked as the Patron of hospitals, but most of all as one who for his goodness merited praise from the Lord. The love that Christ had for this Israelite without guile is shewn by the Evangelist John, who recordeth that Nathaniel was with Peter, Thomas, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples, on the shores of the Tiberian Sea, when after the resurrection their Master came to comfort them, and fed them with the food which, with his own hands, he had prepared and cooked for them.

Stanza 2 of Vesper Hymn:

Bartholomew the good, now crowned with Saints in light,
A radiant, golden star, is than the sun more bright:
May heavenly lustre shine on our beclouded way,
That, purged and healed in soul, we reach the perfect day.


Almighty and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word: grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Anglican Breviary. St. Bartholomew reminds us to what lengths the saints are willing to go to proclaim to the world God's own self-communication, the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was willing to be flayed alive for the sake of the gospel. How far would we go to proclaim our Lord? Is the glorious crown of martyrdom a crown we would wear?

Holy Bartholomew, pray for us!

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