Wednesday, 24 August 2016 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast day of one of our Lord’s holy Twelve Apostles, namely St. Bartholomew the Apostle, one of the brave and courageous chief disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, who fearlessly went forth to many places far and wide in order to bring the Good News of the Gospel to the people who were still unaware of the Lord and His salvation.

He was also known as Nathanael, which story we heard in the Gospel today taken from the Gospel according to St. John. Nathanael, St. Bartholomew was known to be an educated Jew, who could also speak Greek and was very wise by that day’s standard. Indeed, he was probably the most intelligent and the best educated among all of Christ’s Apostles.

Yet in that intelligent mind and body, existed a heart that yearned for the Lord, which desired to seek the Lord and find His love. He sought the One Who would lead the people of God back to their glory, and He Who would liberate His people from their torment and suffering. And he did find the One Whom he sought in Jesus, Who came to call him and praise him for his wisdom, uprightness and faith.

That same Apostle, St. Bartholomew would go on to serve the Lord throughout His earthly ministry, caring for the poor, serving the people to whom God had revealed Himself to, frequently even having to suffer persecution and challenges from the Jewish authorities and from all those who were opposed to the works of Christ. Yet, he persevered and endured through all of them and remained committed to his calling.

It was told that St. Bartholomew continued his mission after Christ had risen from the dead and departed from this world in His Ascension. He went on to evangelise in many regions, such as India and Armenia, where records attested to his many works on the people who lived in those places. He preached to them and led them to the revelation of truth in God.

St. Bartholomew eventually met his death in martyrdom in Armenia, where it was told that he managed to convert the king of the Armenians, whose brother then took over power and in revenge for such an act, tortured St. Bartholomew and his fellow Apostle, St. Jude Thaddeus, was martyred defending their faith in God, and they were raised to the glory of heaven promised to them, after having done so much for the Lord, for His Church and for the salvation of His people.

In the first reading, we read about the vision of St. John the Apostle in his book of Apocalypse or the Book of Revelations, showing to us at the end of the series of his visions, after seeing the vision of tribulations and challenges that would come to face the Church and the faithful, he saw the glorious Holy City of Jerusalem. It is the representation of the eternal life and the glory that God had promised to all those who have kept their faith in Him to the end.

God rewards all those who have walked in His ways and those who have given themselves to Him, leaving behind their sinfulness and old ways of the world. He does not abandon His beloved ones to the darkness, but shows them instead the way to reach out towards the light. However, the examples of St. Bartholomew the Apostle and that of the other holy Apostles, disciples, saints and martyrs serve to remind us that the way forward for us will not be an easy one.

Trials and tribulations, challenges and difficulties, and all other obstacles are always part of this journey of faith, as those who do not desire our salvation and liberation from the tyranny and oppression by sin are at work to undermine our salvation, and to keep us in the darkness. But never fear, brethren, for God is always ever faithful to His beloved ones, and we are assured and guaranteed the eternal rest and glory that can be found in Him alone, as St. John the Apostle had seen in his wonderful vision.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves to the Lord anew in the footsteps of the holy Apostles, walking in the path that St. Bartholomew had initiated before us. Let us all follow his example, his upright and just actions, learn from his wisdom and from his desire to seek and love the Lord, and more importantly, the desire to spread the Good News of salvation to many more people that they too may be saved together with us.

Let us all be modern day Apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, not be fearful but instead be filled with joy and courage, knowing that God is on our side, guiding us and helping us on the way, that we may merit to receive the glory of His kingdom, and together as one people, may we be able to help each other to reach out to the promise of the heavenly kingdom and eternal life God will give to those who keep their faith in Him. God bless us all. Amen.

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