07 October 2006

On Bartholomew

During his Wednesday Audience on 4 October 2006, Pope Benedict continued his reflections on the Twelve Apostles, focusing on the Apostle Bartholomew.

The Pontiff recalled that Bartholomew has traditionally been associated with Nathanael, "probably due to the fact that Nathanael . . . is placed next to Philip, that is, in the place that Bartholomew has in the lists of the apostles referred to by the other Gospels."

It was Nathanael who posed the skeptical question, "Can anything good from Nazareth?" (John 1:46) and in this question we see that "according to Jewish expectations, the Messiah could not come from such an obscure village," the Holy Father said. "At the same time, however, it shows the freedom of God, who surprises our expectations, manifesting himself precisely there, where we least expect him."

Through Nathanael's invitation to Philip, "Come and see" (John 1:46), we come to see that "our knowledge of Jesus is in need above all of a living experience: Another person's testimony is certainly important, as in general the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation that comes to us from one or several witnesses. But we ourselves must be personally involved in an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus," noted Pope Benedict XVI.

"Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49) said Nathanael to Jesus. The Apostle's words remind us that "we must never lose sight of either of these two elements, since if we only proclaim the heavenly dimension of Jesus we run the risk of making him an ethereal and evanescent being, while if we only recognize his concrete role in history, we run the risk of neglecting his divine dimension, which is his proper description," said the Bishop of Rome.

As he has done with each of the Apostles discussed thus far, the Holy Father presented a lesson that we can learn from Bartholomew: "adherence to Jesus can be lived and witnessed even without doing sensational works. Jesus is the extraordinary one, to whom each of us is called to consecrate his life and death."

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