Saint Bartholomew and the Longing For “Greater Things”
Rabbi, You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.“ ~ John 1:49
In both today’s 1st Reading (Revelation 21:9-15) and Gospel (John 1:45-51), we catch glimpses, albeit brief, veiled, and mysterious glimpses, of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Revelation we encounter the holy city of Jerusalem literally pouring forth from heaven, “gleaming with the splendor of God, its radiance like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.” (Rev 21:11). A remarkable image for sure.
Included at the tail-end of this vision we are told that the wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. A reminder of the foundational bedrock-like strength of Christ’s Apostles is the perfect segue into today’s Gospel from the Book of John (1:45-51), for in it we revisit Jesus‘ encounter with Nathaniel.
Nathaniel, the man who would be re-named Bartholomew and go on to become one of the twelve, clearly found great favor with Jesus. This was the man of whom Jesus instantly said “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” (John 1:47). Jesus then promised Bartholomew that “...you will see greater things than this,” going on to promise him that “...you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
This double-shot foreshadowing of the Kingdom of Heaven in today’s Readings serve as a reminder that a life rooted in the truth is worth defending, regardless of whatever happens to be trending at the moment. Now more than ever we need to defend the truth through the lives we lead, taking our cue from today’s Responsorial Psalm which proclaims “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor if your kingdom.” (Psalm 145).
Through Jesus we have been offered beautiful promises of what is to come. Baptized into Christ and given “a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:23-28), we know that this world of suffering and anguish is not our final destination. Far from it. We are instead children of God destined for heavenly citizenship for all of eternity. An amazing promise from an amazing God. One worth striving for in all that we do.
“O Glorious Saint Bartholomew, Jesus called you a person without guile and you saw in this word a sign that he was the Son of God and King of Israel. Obtain for us the grace to be ever guileless and innocent as doves. At the same time, help us to have your gift of faith to see the Divine hand in the events of daily life. May we discern the signs of the times that lead to Jesus on earth and will eventually unite us to him forever in heaven.“ ~ Amen.
Saint Bartholomew, Apostle of Jesus, pray for us.