Daily Gospel

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

 

Reading 1 (Rev 21:9b-14)

The angel spoke to me, saying,
"Come here.
I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Gospel (Jn 1:45-51)

Philip found Nathanael and told him,
"We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth."
But Nathanael said to him,
"Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
"Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him."
Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."
Nathanael answered him,
"Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
Jesus answered and said to him,
"Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this."
And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man."


Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: Christ and his Church

            There are things which human language isn’t enough to describe them, so people need to come and see for themselves; for example, the seven wonders of the world. There are famous persons who are praised by many, but to understand them people need to make a direct contact with them; for example, the queen of Sheba came from afar to meet king Solomon to learn about his wisdom. Christ is the object of faith whom people need to learn about and to have personal experience. Others may introduce or talk about him; but to have an absolute trust in him, people need to come to him to learn and to have personal encounter with him.

            Today readings emphasize the personal encounter which people need to have before they can believe in the person they are searching. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation was carried by the angel to a high mountain so he can see with his eyes the bride of the Lamb, that is the Church. The bride is represented by the ideal Jerusalem which comes from heaven, a combination of the Israel’s twelve tribes of the Old Testament and Christ’s twelves apostles of the New Testament. In the Gospel, after the apostle Philip recognized Christ, he came to his friend, Nathanael, to introduce Christ to him. Nathanael suspected when Philip said that Christ came from Nazareth because nothing good came from there; but Philip insisted that he can come and see for himself. Nathanael came and believe in Christ.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: "Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

1.1/ The Church is Christ’s bride: In the Old Testament, many prophets compared God’s love for Israel as the love between husband and wife. In the New Testament, Christ himself and many authors also compared Christ’s love for the Church as the love between husband and wife. The author of Revelation also followed this tradition and reported his vision about the Church, Christ’s bride, as follows: “One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.”

            (1) The Church is represented by the holy city Jerusalem, the origin and the center of the Church. The fact that the heavenly Jerusalem came from heaven, wants to say that this is the exemplified city which God prepares for the Church. The fighting Church on earth shall be unified with the glorious Church in heaven.

            (2) The Church’s glory reflects God’s glory; the glory of God’s presence covers the Church. These description in details want to highlight the Church’s holiness without any blemish after she was purified and sanctified by the Lamb’s blood who is Christ.

1.2/ The Church is the combination of the Old and the New Testament.

            (1) The twelve tribes of Israel (Eze 48:30-35, Exo 28:17-31): "It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites."

            (2) Four orientations: “There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west.” Each orientation has three doors to receive people of different nations to enter the Church.

            (3) The Lamb’s twelves apostles (Mt 19:28, Lk 22:29): "The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

2/ Gospel: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

2.1/ People must discard prejudice to learn new things: St. Thomas Aquinas said, “When you love someone, you desire the best for that person.” In Jesus’ three years of public ministry, we saw some examples of this expression of love. For examples, when John Baptist sees Christ passing by, he introduced him to his two disciples and they followed him (Jn 1:35-37). One of these two is Andre, after knowing Christ, introduced Christ to his brother Peter (Jn 1:40-42). In today passage, Philip invited his friend Nathanael to see Jesus by saying, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth."But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see.”

            Prejudice prevents people from knowing the truth. There are two things which might prevent Nathanael to come to Jesus: First, the competition between villages. Nathanael was born in Cana; there might be a competition between Cana and Nazareth because they are very close to each other. Secondly, according to Scripture, the Messiah shall be born at Bethlehem, David’s hometown; not at Nazareth, an unknown village in the north. Facing Nathanael’s prejudice and insult, Philip wasn’t discouraged, he still encouraged him: “Come and see!” Nathanael might come to see Christ due to his friendship with Philip.

2.2/ The encounter between Christ and Nathanael

            (1) Christ lighted up Nathanael’s faith: When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him."This is the main idea of Psalm 32:2 which wrote, “Happy those to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no deceit.”

            The first reaction of Nathanael is startled because he never see Jesus before, how could he fathom his life? So, Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."One more surprise, Jesus has ability to see through everywhere; for example, when Nathanael conversed with Philip under the fig tree. Knowing that he couldn’t hide anything from Jesus, Nathanael humbly confessed: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

            (2) Christ promised to show Nathanael more wonderful works: “Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this."And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

            - The vision of Jacob’s ladder: The clause “the angels of God ascending and descending” reminded us Jacob’s vision of a ladder at Bethel (Gen 28:12-13). Christ implied that he is the ladder that connects between heaven and earth. The angels of God continuously ascend and descend so that they can offer human prayers to God and bring God’s grace to people.

            - Who is Nathanael that the Fourth Gospel mentioned here? There are many opinions: Some said that it is an ideal figure for the Israelites. Others said that it is St. Paul or the beloved disciple. Still others said that it is Bartholomew, one of the twelve whom the Synoptists mentioned. The Church accepted the last opinion.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We need to spend time to study and to develop our close relationship with Christ so that we can have a strong faith in him.

            - Our duty is to introduce people to Christ, not on ourselves. We can do that either by preaching or witnessing through our life. We should never prevent people to God due to our talk or action.