Rv 21:9-14; Ps 145:10-18; Jn 1:45-51
Jesus is the friend of sinners. Jesus is our friend, and his love could not be more clearly revealed than in his cross and resurrection. Jesus is our friend, but are we his friends? To be a friend of Jesus is to be his disciple, to follow him home to the Father; we are to follow the Lord Jesus like his Apostle Bartholomew. “The friends of the Lord tell the glory of his kingship,” proclaims the Psalm. The friends of the Lord, in their praises discourse of the glory of his kingdom and speak of his might. Why do they do this? The friends give witness so that all people might know the might and the glorious splendor of The Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus from his throne on Calvary has established this kingdom, and his self-sacrifice endures through all generations in the mystery of the Eucharist. In this re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ his body and blood satisfy our hunger and thirst, and we take on Christ’s own hunger and thirst that all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Such are the friends of the Friend of Sinners. As friends of Christ, we are sent like the Apostle Bartholomew to witness in our words, and our deeds, for our entire life.
This feast of Saint Bartholomew gives us a glimpse of the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. It is the cross of Christ that provides us with a ladder to the heavens. We gather here around his cross to find our strength, and to be nourished with the body and blood of the Lamb of God. We gather here to hear the Lord Jesus say of us, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Our deepest longing is here fulfilled. We long with broken and crushed hearts to be men and women of simplicity and truth, to be without duplicity. Here under the fig tree, the cross of Christ, we rest secure in the Son of God, the true King of the Universe. We are amazed that the Lord Jesus sees us as we are. Indeed, he sees through our masks and our self-deception. The Lord Jesus sees the beauty and goodness with which we have been created and in which we have been redeemed. It is his vision of who we really are that gives us new hope to join with the Apostles and all the hosts of heaven in the battle with Satan and his angels. United with such heavenly helpers we have every reason to hope and to rejoice that the Lord Jesus has found us and saved us.
The Lord Jesus does not limit his summoning disciples to those who live in Judea. He goes to Galilee, where live the less than pure Israelites. Even Saint Nathanael, aka Saint Bartholomew, reveals this judgment on Galilee when he reacts to the mention of one of its towns, “Can any good come from Nazareth?” Notice Saint Philip’s response, “Come and see.” Already the disciples are using the Master’s own words from earlier in this Gospel. This imitation of the Lord Jesus flows out of a certain confidence in their relationships with each other and with Christ. Indeed, these first disciples would become his apostles. It is in this time of gathering, of harvesting, from the people of Israel and Galilee that the Lord Jesus discovers the faith of those who have waited for his coming for so many generations. Such faith is praised and rewarded when the Lord promises Saint Bartholomew, “You will see greater things than this.” The same promise is made to us. If we exercise in prayer the mustard seed of faith that we already have, we will see what the first followers saw, “the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Indeed, we will grow from glory to glory! Such is the promise of our future. This glorious vision has begun to be fulfilled even here and now in our sharing in the Kingdom of God present at this Eucharist.