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.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 1 : 45-51

At that time, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets : 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.”

Tuesday, 24 August 2021 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Revelations 21 : 9b-14

And one of the seven Angels who were with the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues said to me, “Come, I am going to show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

He took me up, in a spiritual vision, to a very high mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel, with the colour of crystal-clear jasper. Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve Angels.

Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones, on which are written the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Monday, 24 August 2020 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of one of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Bartholomew the Apostle, also associated and known as Nathanael in the Gospels, just as we heard in our Gospel today on the encounter and interaction between the Lord Jesus and Nathanael and how God called him and made him one of His disciples after persuading him to believe in the truth.

As ‘bar’ is the word used in the Aramaic language, the language spoken at the time of Jesus’ ministry, to denote the person being the ‘son of’, just as in Simon bar Jonah, or Simon son of John, thus, St. Bartholomew’s name might have been historically Nathanael bar Talmai or the ‘son of Ptolemy’, Ptolemy being the royal name for Greeks living in Egypt then, and which therefore could have pointed out Nathanael, or St. Bartholomew as the son of a Hellenised Jew, who might have taken many Greek influences including name from the Egyptian Greeks. Later on then, Nathanael would be better remembered by his surname, and therefore, as St. Bartholomew.

And as we heard how God called him into His service, following which, Nathanael, as St. Bartholomew, dedicated his life to God, we can see how unlike many of the other Apostles, St. Bartholomew as a possible member of the Hellenised Jew tend to be better educated and likely more literate than many of the Apostles as many of the people at that time were illiterate, unable to write or read.

St. Bartholomew showed great knowledge of the Scripture, as he even knew about the fact that the Scriptures did not say that the Messiah would come from the region of Galilee, but from the city of David, Bethlehem as prophesied through the prophets. This showed that St. Bartholomew likely had a significant knowledge of the Scriptures and likely had high intelligence as well. This is something that Judas Iscariot, the traitor, also shared with him.

However, unlike Judas Iscariot, St. Bartholomew trusted in God and followed Him wholeheartedly. Ever since the Lord revealed to him that He knew all about him, and knew where he was before he met Him, St. Bartholomew knew that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, the One he had been looking for. He followed the Lord and although very little was mentioned of St. Bartholomew in the Scriptural records, he definitely took part in the important events of the early Church.

According to the Church history and tradition passed down from the Apostles, St. Bartholomew was attributed with the mission to India, preaching the faith along the coasts of what is today India, either together or separate from St. Thomas, who also preached in the same region and established the first Christian communities in that area. St. Bartholomew then would travel afterwards to the region of Armenia and continued to preach the faith there.

St. Bartholomew preached the Gospel and the truth of God in Armenia, together with St. Jude Thaddeus, and it was in Armenia that St. Bartholomew was martyred, after accounts that he managed to convert either a king or high noble of Armenia to the Christian faith, and after opposition from the pagans, St. Bartholomew was arrested, tortured, flayed alive and beheaded, enduring martyrdom for his faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen such courage and commitment that St. Bartholomew, as well as the other Apostles had shown in the face of persecution and trials, and they all courageously stood up for their faith even the midst of harm and threat to their own lives and safety. They showed us what true Christian faith, dedication and commitment are all about, and we should be inspired by their great examples, particularly that of St. Bartholomew the Apostle.

And in our first reading today, we heard the interesting passage from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, in which at the end of the Revelations that St. John received and recorded, he spoke of the vision of the great new city of God, coming down from Heaven, the New Jerusalem, full of God’s glory. St. John saw the New Jerusalem that will come at the end of time and after the Last Judgment, where all the faithful will live together with God, reigning gloriously in His kingdom.

And the Apostles were featured prominently in that vision, occupying thrones or seats of Judgment, as the Twelve principal servants of the Lord, as the sharers of God’s glory. For all the sufferings that the Apostles suffered, as everyone except for St. John died in martyrdom, suffering all sorts of most terrible tortures before their deaths, and for St. John’s case, he suffered a lifetime of persecution, arrest and imprisonment, exile and hard labour in his long life.

What we all can take from this passage is the hope that the Lord has given us, of the eternal life and glory to come, in His eternal kingdom. And although our lives may be difficult and we may encounter bitter repression and persecution as the Apostles like St. Bartholomew had suffered, but we must remain faithful, for in the end, God knows every single little actions we do for His sake and for His glory, and also for the good of our fellow brethren. When the time of reckoning comes, we will definitely not regret have given what we could to serve the Lord.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, and especially today we remember the glorious memory of St. Bartholomew, faithful and dedicated servant of God. Let us all reach out in faith to our fellow brethren, and let us show God’s love and truth via our actions in life. May the Lord bless each and every one of us, and strengthen us in our faith and resolve to live righteously in His presence. Amen.

Monday, 24 August 2020 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 1 : 45-51

At that time, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets : 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.”

Monday, 24 August 2020 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 17-18

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Righteous is YHVH in all His ways, His mercy shows in all His deeds. He is near those who call on Him, who call trustfully upon His Name.

Monday, 24 August 2020 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Revelations 21 : 9b-14

And one of the seven Angels who were with the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues said to me, “Come, I am going to show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

He took me up, in a spiritual vision, to a very high mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel, with the colour of crystal-clear jasper. Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve Angels.

Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones, on which are written the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

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.

Saturday, 24 August 2019 : Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 1 : 45-51

At that time, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets : 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.”