Memory of the apostles

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Feast of the Apostle Bartholomew of Canaa of Galilee. His body is kept in the church of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island, in Rome, which has become the memorial place for the "New Martyrs." Remembrance of Jerry Essan Masslo, a South African refugee who came to Italy and was welcomed by the Community of Sant'Egidio. He was killed by robbers in 1989. With him we remember all refugees.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 1,45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.' Nathanael said to him, 'From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place?' Philip replied, 'Come and see.' When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, 'There, truly, is an Israelite in whom there is no deception.' Nathanael asked, 'How do you know me?' Jesus replied, 'Before Philip came to call you, I saw you under the fig tree.' Nathanael answered, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel.' Jesus replied, 'You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You are going to see greater things than that.' And then he added, 'In all truth I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of man.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today we celebrate the feast of the apostle St. Bartholomew. His body rests in the Roman Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island which became the memorial place of the New Martyrs of the 20th and 21st century in care of the Community of Sant'Egidio. In the church the memory of the apostle is kept with the memory of many witnesses of faith who in every part of the world continue to give their lives for the Gospel. Tradition has it that Bartholomew went and preached the Gospel in Armenia after Pentecost, crossing the lands of Syria and present Iraq, which are still marked by the suffering of many Christians persecuted for the sake of their faith. We then understand the words that Jesus addressed to Bartholomew (which tradition identifies with Nathanael in the first chapter of John): "You will see greater things than these!" There is always a greater love that the Lord teaches us and shows us, offering his very life first; and we are witnesses of this love. It is a testimony that is communicated from heart to heart. Philip reports to Nathanael that he had found "him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael replied with a heavy prejudice "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
It is a prejudice against everything that comes from outside, that does not speak of me, that does not put my "I" at the centre of everything. In fact, we too often experience prejudices, we prefer to remain attached to our visions of life, to our knowledge, and with difficulty we open ourselves to the greatest vision and design of God. When Jesus sees Nathanael approaching, he exclaims: "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit." Nathanael-Bartholomew is touched in his heart; he feels loved and understood by these words and recognizes Jesus as the Lord of life and history. This confession will lead him to follow Jesus throughout his life. When we listen to the Word and entrust ourselves to it, we become witnesses of a greater life and of that vision of an open heaven above the earth from which angels ascend and descend to accompany men and women.