Tuesday, 24 August 2021 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, one of the Twelve great Apostles of the Lord, and therefore we remember the memory of his great dedication and life, the time he has spent in following the Lord and carrying out His will, in the evangelisation of the world and the spreading of the truth and the Good News of the Gospels.

St. Bartholomew was, according to the Apostolic tradition, also known as Nathanael, whose story we heard in our Gospel passage today. We heard how Nathanael was called by the Lord to follow Him and become His disciples, and how he was initially skeptical of the Lord, when he heard that the Lord had come from the land of Galilee. He was one of the most qualified and educated among the disciples, an intellectual and knew the Law of God and the prophets well, and thus he knew that no prophet or Saviour would come from Galilee.

Yet, his doubts and hesitation were immediately dispelled when the Lord miraculously told him about himself and how He knew about him, where he was and the things that He would show him. Nathanael put behind his doubts and hesitation, embracing the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly as his Lord and Master, following Him for His ministry from then henceforth, being chosen as one of the Twelve, and becoming an Apostle later on, at the forefront of the early Church’s ministry and evangelisation.

It was told that St. Bartholomew went to various parts of the world, including India, Parthia and Mesopotamia, and parts of Asia Minor and Armenia, focusing on the eastern parts of the known world at the time, spending much time in spreading the word of God to the many people who have not yet heard or known about Him. He helped the other disciples and Apostles to establish firm foundations of Christian communities in various places, and instilled the truth of God among many others, leading to many embracing the call to God’s grace and salvation.

His mission brought him to Armenia where together with St. Jude Thaddeus, the other one of the Twelve Apostles, he helped to establish the Christian faith in Armenia, which would eventually become the first nation in the world to officially adapt Christianity as their state faith. It was there that St. Bartholomew was martyred, in the city of Albanopolis, due to him having successfully converted the local king into the Christian faith, which was then opposed by the king’s brother and the other nobles, who then arrested, tortured and executed St. Bartholomew by flaying.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall the great passion and dedication by which St. Bartholomew had given his life in dedication to the Lord, and as we seek to emulate his examples and be inspired by his deeds, we are all called to discern carefully on our own path in life. Are we capable of devoting ourselves to the Lord in the same manner, brothers and sisters in Christ? And are we willing to commit our time, effort, resources and attention to glorify the Lord daily and at all times, in our own words, actions and every deeds?

Today as we remember the courage and the faith of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, we are reminded that for all the great deeds he had done, it was all possible because the faithful Apostle entrusted himself completely to the Lord and gave himself completely to His cause, and allowed Him to lead him down the path of great virtue and succour for many others. We may be ordinary ourselves, but God called on the ordinary ones to follow Him, and made them worthy, and bestowed on them the strength and courage, the wisdom and intellect, and the power required for them to fulfil their calling.

Now it is really up to us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we are willing to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly as St. Bartholomew and the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord had done. The Lord has called us all to follow Him and to walk in the path that He has shown us. It is up to us now to follow Him and to remain true to our faith, not by mere formality alone, but rather also through genuine actions and efforts, through our every contributions, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be.

Let us all therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, be the bearers of the truth of God, His faithful witnesses in our world today. Let us all be faithful to the Lord and walk in His path always, and be inspiration to one another, helping and supporting each other in our efforts and endeavours. May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless us in our every efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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