Feast of St. Bartholomew
August 24, 2019
Feast of Saint
Gospel Reading: John 1:45-51
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well: he is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you.”
Nathanael answered, “Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that.
Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
Isn’t it surprising why on the feast of Bartholomew, the Gospel speaks of Nathanael? Here’s an interesting fact: Nathanael is mentioned only in the Gospel of John where Bartholomew is never mentioned. This is one detail that led scholars to believe that “Bartholomew” is a complex word composed of Bar (which means “son”) and Tholomeus, and that Bartholomew is actually the surname used to describe Nathanael as son of Tholomeus. The full name of Nathanael then could have been Nathanael Bartholomew, that is, Nathanael son of Tholomeus.
In the time of Jesus, rivalry between towns was common. When Phillip said that the Messiah was from Nazareth, Nathanael who was from Cana retorted, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” After his first meeting with Jesus he set aside his intellectual pride. His turning point was when Jesus told him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
To an Israelite, a fig tree is a symbol of peace. Nathanael must have been praying often under the fig tree asking God to reveal to him the Messiah. When Jesus said he saw him under the fig tree, he must have told himself, “Here is finally the one who knows my thoughts and aspirations.” Making reference to Genesis 28: 12, 13 Jesus said: “You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” It was like telling him that more than reading minds, he can be that ladder that takes him to heaven.
Like Nathanael let us find fulfillment of our aspirations in Jesus. This presupposes that we are in touch with our aspirations through frequent meditation as Nathanael was. – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.
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