Saturday, 24 August 2019 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the principal disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord, namely that of St. Bartholomew, who was also known as Nathanael as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. In that passage we heard about the moment when the Lord called Nathanael to become one of His followers, revealing Himself on Who He truly is, the Saviour promised to the world.

The Lord called Nathanael and reassured him that He truly is the Messiah, although initially Nathanael doubted Him for having come from the humble village of Nazareth in Galilee, where no one great has been prophesied to be born, but the Lord showed him that He truly is God Who knows everything and all things, Who has brought into this world the truth with which He would save this world and all the people He loves.

And Nathanael came to believe in the Lord and followed Him wholeheartedly to the very end, becoming one of His Apostles and went through the many moments throughout the Lord’s earthly ministry and beyond, and later on throughout the evangelical and missionary ministry he embarked on in proclaiming the truth of God to the people in many faraway places, known as St. Bartholomew the Apostle.

St. Bartholomew was accredited with many missions to places as far as India, Armenia among other places, spreading the Good News of the Lord to the people in those places who have not yet heard the truth of the Lord. He persevered even through the many challenges and persecutions he had to face throughout his ministry, and even through the rejections and oppositions he endured all those years.

Eventually, it was told that he was martyred in a city in Armenia where he was hung and flayed alive after according to some Apostolic traditions, he managed to convert the king of Armenia to the Christian faith. The opponents of the faith struck out against him and persecuted him, and St. Bartholomew died as a martyr, bravely and faithfully defending his dedication to the Lord to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have now heard about the life and dedication of the Apostle St. Bartholomew, in his commitment to the Lord all the years of his life. But do we all also realise that each and every one of us are also called to walk in the path set before us by the Apostles? Just as St. Bartholomew had dedicated himself completely and trusted the Lord completely, in performing the missions which He had entrusted to him and the other Apostles, all of us are also called to do the same mission and work.

For the works of the Church and the mission God had entrusted the Church and His Apostles are truly still far from done. We are all called to walk in their footsteps and continue their work of evangelisation and ministering to the people of God. We are all called to be witnesses of our faith in everything we say and do, and we are expected to live our lives with faith, to be exemplary in our actions and our deeds, with all of our dealings and interactions with one another.

And as what we perhaps have experienced in our own lives and what the Apostles and the story of saints and martyrs have shown us, we are likely to endure challenges and oppositions, persecutions and rejections in our lives as we live our lives with faith, and often we will have to be torn because of those whom we love who cause us hurt and pain just because they disagree with our way of life filled with faith.

Are we able to endure such sufferings and challenges, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to go through those difficult times and moments and yet still remaining true to our faith in God? The Apostles have shown us, the martyrs and the many other saints of God have proved to us that it is possible for us to live a truly Christian life and persevere on despite the difficulties we may face in our respective lives.

In our first reading today, the reading from the Book of Revelations should become a great source of inspiration to us, as St. John saw in his vision the coming of the great New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, on which was written the names of the Apostles of the Lord, on each of the twelve gates of the great city. This is a reassurance and promise from God, that all of those who have been faithful to Him and devoted themselves to Him, from the Apostles to all of us, will not be forgotten, but instead will receive the fullness of joy and true happiness, glory and satisfaction in God in due time.

Let us all be encouraged and be strengthened in faith, that from now on we will no longer be lukewarm in living our faith, but instead grow to be better in faith and in our good works and deeds, all done for the greater glory of God. May the Lord through the intercession of His Apostle, St. Bartholomew and the other Holy Apostles, saints and martyrs continue to guide us in our own respective journeys of faith in life. Amen.

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