“Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:46)
Too often, we judge people by where they come from and we easily make generalizations about certain towns and places. These beliefs and assumptions soon become fixed in our minds that even when we find evidence to prove such notions false, we continue holding on to them.
For Bartholomew (Also known as Nathanael), Nazareth was a complete write-off. The reaction of Philip is highly worthy of praise. Philip did not try to argue with him. He simply said: “Come and See.” Like Philip, there are times we encounter people whose minds are fixed in our attempt to tell people about Jesus. The best thing to say to such persons is: “Just come and see.” Invite them and allow Jesus to do the rest, avoid arguments, avoid fights.
On the other hand, this encounter teaches us to refrain from prejudice. Avoid drawing a conclusion too quickly; no matter how convinced you are, know that you could still be wrong.
As soon as Philip brought Bartholomew to see Jesus, it was as though he handed over the baton to Jesus who in turn completed the work. Jesus won Bartholomew over by simply saying two things about Bartholomew which sum up his entire life.
One. Jesus described Bartholomew as an Israelite in whom is no guile. In other words, Bartholomew was an upright man. He was the opposite of the scribes and Pharisees who Jesus condemned often condemned for their hypocrisy. This is why we are celebrating him as a saint today.
Dear friends, if Jesus (from whom nothing is hidden) were to give a candid summary of your life, how would it sound? Would you be proud to hear it?
Secondly, Jesus told Bartholomew that He saw him under the fig tree. According to some Biblical scholars, the fig tree was a symbol of the prayerfulness of Bartholomew. That is to say, even before meeting Jesus face to face, Bartholomew had established the habit of going under the fig tree to pray on his own and so, only God could have seen him pray there. This is the reason Bartholomew immediately called Jesus, the Son of God, and the King of Israel. How often do I go to a quiet place to commune with God?
Finally, Jesus promised Bartholomew that he would see greater things; heaven opened and the angels ascending and descending. This promise is not reserved only for Bartholomew, it is for all of us so long as we are people without guile and we are as prayerful as Bartholomew.
Dear friends, every sacrifice we make for being Christians is worth it because heaven is real and heaven awaits us who remain faithful. That fact is further reinforced in today’s first reading. Don’t let anyone deceive you that heaven is not real. Jesus can never lie.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, increase in me a longing for heaven. Amen. St. Bartholomew, Pray for us.
Bible Study: Apocalypse 21:9-14, Psalm 145:10-18, John 1:45-51).