Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
August 24, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Apostle Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel. As with many of the Apostles, little is known of Bartholomew’s life outside of a few Gospel stories. John’s Gospel tells the wonderful story of Nathaniel’s call by Christ.
The encounter is a very personal one. Jesus and Nathaniel share a conversation that must have impressed the other listeners because it was remembered and recounted word for word in the Gospel.
One exchange, in particular, carries deep significance for Nathaniel. Jesus says that there is no duplicity, or pretense, in Nathaniel. There is a transparency in him shared even with God. Nathaniel wonders out loud , “How do you know me?” Jesus answers, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
What was going on with Nathaniel under that fig tree? A moment of intense prayer, questioning, decision, doubt, hope? Whatever it was, Jesus had shared it, even at a distance. When Nathaniel realizes this, his faith in Jesus and vocation to follow Him are confirmed. Nathaniel professes, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Where are the fig trees in your life story — those moments when, looking back, you realize that God was with you even though seeming distant?
What have been the turning points in your faith, when you came out from under the shadow of a challenging experience, to the grateful amazement that God had accompanied you through it?
What are those pivotal, intimate moments when it was just you and God – those transparent moments that changed your life?
If you can’t recall any such moments, perhaps you are not giving yourself the time and space to let God reach you.
It might be time to seek out a “fig tree” – a place of spiritual solitude where you may speak honestly and directly to God about the most important things in your life. Open your heart, like Nathaniel, to hear what God already knows about you.
Poetry: The Banyan Tree – Rabindranath Tagore
O you shaggy-headed banyan tree
standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little child,
like the birds that have
nested in your branches and left you?
Do you not remember
how he sat at the window
and wondered at
the tangle of your roots
The women would come
to fill their jars in the pond,
and your huge black shadow
would wriggle on the water
like sleep struggling to wake up.
Sunlight danced on the ripples
like restless tiny shuttles
weaving golden tapestry
Two ducks swam by the weedy margin
above their shadows, and
the child would sit still and think.
He longed to be the wind
and blow through your resting branches,
to be your shadow and
lengthen with the day on the water,
to be a bird and perch
on your topmost twig, and to float like
those ducks among the weeds and shadows.
Music: The Memory of Trees – Enya (Some lyrical New Age music to listen to under your fig tree!)