Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
August 24, 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this Feast of St. Bartholomew, we pray with Psalm 145. And what a perfect choice!
Your friends make known, O Lord,
the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
As our Gospel today indicates, many believe that Bartholomew is the same person as Nathaniel – in fact Nathaniel bar Talmai, (Talmai meaning “farmer”, or “son of the furrows”).
Praying with Psalm 145, I picture Nathaniel leaning back into his ancient fig tree, his fingers burrowing into the fertile earth around him. What might have been his deep thoughts as he dissolved into the fig tree’s generous shade?
Knowing Psalm 145 by heart, perhaps Nathaniel prayed it in his own very personal words:
Make me your loyal friend, O Lord.
I see your glory in all Creation.
Let me help others see that glory,
see themselves as a precious part of You.
Maybe Nathaniel had retreated to that tree because the noise around him didn’t hold an answer to his longing. He needed silence to remember that God will always find a way to bring our holy desires to fruition – just like the nearly sweet, unripe figs dancing just over Nathaniel’s pondering head:
The LORD is just in all his waysPsalm 145:17
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
Nathaniel found his truth, his answer that day. It walked right up to him in the form of his buddy Philip:
Philip found Nathanael and told him,John 1:45
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
Nathaniel, perhaps his head and belly still full of figs, takes a little while to get the full picture. But when he does, he gets it completely, unreservedly, and forever:
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;John1:49
you are the King of Israel….
You are the One we pray for in our psalms.
You are the One we have waited for.
The beautiful thing for Nathaniel is that Jesus was waiting for him too.
Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.John 1:48
We’re all under some kind of shadow at times, longing to hear the invitation of God. The story of Nathaniel assures us that the call will come through our hopeful prayer and deep desire for God’s glory.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
Poetry: Joy and Peace in Believing by William Cowper, an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside.
Sometimes a light surprises The Christian while he sings; It is the Lord who rises With healing on His wings; When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again A season of clear shining, To cheer it after rain. In holy contemplation We sweetly then pursue The theme of God's salvation, And find it ever new; Set free from present sorrow, We cheerfully can say, E'en let the unknown to-morrow Bring with it what it may! It can bring with it nothing, But He will bear us through; Who gives the lilies clothing, Will clothe His people too; Beneath the spreading heavens No creature but is fed; And He who feeds the ravens Will give His children bread. Though vine nor fig tree neither Their wonted fruit shall bear, Though all the field should wither, Nor flocks nor herds be there: Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice; For, while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.
Music: Yet Will I Praise Thee – Kent Henry