Homily for Monday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time Cycle II
Theme: BE AS ZEALOUS AS BARTHOLOMEW
By: Rev. Fr. Jacob Aondover ATSU
Homily for Monday August 24 2020
FEAST OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW APOSTLE AND MARTYR
READINGS: REVELATION 21:9-14, PSALM 145, JOHN 1:45-51
We celebrate today my beloved brothers and sisters, an Apostle who embraced fearless evangelism. According to Eusebius, the great Church historian, St. Bartholomew or Nathaniel as many Scripture scholars agree (reasonably but not conclusively) preached the Gospel in the most barbarous countries of the East. For him and many other writers of antiquity, Bartholomew penetrated as far as India. Mother Church celebrates today one of the twelve apostles who alongside Peter, left everything and followed Jesus (Mt. 19:27). We celebrate one of the twelve to whom Christ promised thrones in eternity (Mt. 19:28). The saint of God celebrated today is among those whose names are inscribed on the twelve foundation stones of the wall of the Holy City. We celebrate Bartholomew, Jesus’ apostle, preacher of the word; lover of Christ (even to the death) and apostle of conversion and evangelization. We celebrate him because of his fidelity to the missionary mandate of Christ “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt. 28:19).
This fearless Apostle of Christ feared neither persecution nor the imminent death that lingered in the violent Eastern countries he preached; rather, he set his sight on what I call ‘fearless evangelization pursuant to the conversion of the peoples’. St. John Chrysostom credits Bartholomew for bringing the faith to Lycaonia. According to St. Gregory of Tours, the last field of Bartholomew’s great toil was Great Armenia, where preaching in an area obstinately addicted to idol worship, he suffered martyrdom. He was gruesomely massacred, others claim he was crucified while some argued he was flayed alive – the most accepted view. He must have had a reminiscence of the last discourse of Christ with him and the other Apostles in Matt. 28:19, to go forth and teach all nations; all nations here include the most barbarous and the most peaceful alike.
My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, I don’t know if we really understand what it means to have one’s skin flayed, excoriated or removed while he is alive; it is the most painful experience one can have. This child of heaven endured being skinned alive without any form of resistance or denunciation of his faith. This is a strong statement of faith, an unwavering faith in him that said ‘if anyone wants to be his follower, he must renounce himself, take up his cross and follow him’ Matt. 16:24; and that ‘whoever would not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me’ (Mt. 10:38). This great apostle understood what Christ meant when he said in John 12:25b that ‘whoever loves his life will lose it, but he that hates his life in this world preserves it for eternal life’. Matthew 16:25 puts it better, ‘whoever loses his life for my sake, shall find it’. Needless to say Bartholomew lost his life for preaching Christ and we are called to emulate him.
The life of Bartholomew should be a challenge for us all today. Of him Christ had said in John 1:47, ‘Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no deceit’, suggesting that he led a good life even before meeting Christ. When he finally met Christ, he followed him and dutifully carried on the mission entrusted to him by Christ. How are our lives now that we know and profess belief in Christ? How deep is our faith, are we willing to suffer persecution and death for the course of Christ?
May St. Bartholomew alongside his friends, the angels and saints of God, pray and watch over us always. Amen.
FEED THE POOR