Bartholomew: a Believer

First Reading: Rv. 21:9b-14

Psalm: Ps. 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

Gospel: Jn. 1:45-51

A man named Bartholomew appears in the list of the apostles in each of the three synoptic gospels. John’s gospel speaks of the Twelve but doesn’t give a list of their names. It mentions by name only Peter, Andrew, Philip and Nathanael. Most biblical scholars identify Nathanael in John’s gospel and Bartholomew in the synoptics.

If we accept this identification, Bartholomew made quite an impression on Jesus. When Jesus first saw him, he exclaimed, “There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.” Bartholomew was brought to Jesus by his friend, Philip, whom Jesus had invited to follow him on the preceding day.

Philip, as a result of his first experience of Jesus was convinced that he was the Messiah. So he urged Bartholomew to accompany him to meet Jesus. He told him that he himself, along with Peter and Andrew,had found the Messiah, Jesus son of Joseph, fromNazareth. “FromNazareth,” Bartholomew blur ted out, “can anything good come from that place?”

Philip had used an approach that didn’t appeal to Bartholomew. If we today wanted to persuade a friend to become a Christian, to follow Christ, how would we go about it? Perhaps we’d line up a series of rational arguments and hope our friend would see them as proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. However, there may not be too many people who would be persuaded to believe by rational arguments.

This, of course, is why Philip’s attempt to persuade Bartholomew failed. He gave Bartholomew a rational reason (Philip himself and Peter and Andrew were convinced Jesus was the Messiah, so therefore you ought to be convinced) and Philip hoped it would lead Bartholomew to accept Jesus as the Messiah. So having failed, Philip abandoned reasoning and said very simply to Bartholomew, “Come and see him for yourself.” Bartholomew went with Philip, was confronted with the person of Jesus and believed.

Elaborate, complex reasoning, whether theological or other, is not the way to profound faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus can be found only in a personal relationship with him.

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