Dear Fathers, Friends Christ,
Today is the Feast of St. Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel in John’s Gospel, and today we have the brief story of his first encounter with Jesus as he accompanied his friend Philip. Upon seeing him, Jesus remarked that he was a man with no guile in him.
That’s a pretty strong compliment. Webster defines guile as crafty; deceitful talk or conduct; cunning. Apparently Jesus recognized in Nathaniel/Bartholomew a stance of honesty and genuineness. In today’s parlance, Jesus might have said of Bartholomew ‘what you see is what you get.’
As I reflected on the Gospel selection, I found myself wondering if Jesus would say that I was a man without guile. As I pondered that, I found it to be a sobering experience. I’d like to think that I am always truthful; that I avoid manipulative behavior in order to get my way and that I always temper my dialog with genuine charity. I do try, but, truth be told, sometimes I fall short because I fear not being liked.
Perhaps as we celebrate St. Bartholomew today we are being asked to reflect on our own stance in life; to call to mind those times when we were less than honest and behaved in a cunning or crafty way; times when we may have woven a manipulative web or told one of those ‘little white lies’ that have the potential to do serious harm. Let us bring those incidents to mind and confess them to our loving God and resolve to amend those behaviors. Let us pray to St. Bartholomew for receptivity to the grace of guilelessness so that Jesus might say of us, ‘here are true Christians; there is no guile in them.
A hymn to St Bartholomew by John Ellerton (to the tune 'Hyfrydol'):
King of saints, to whom the number
Of Thy starry host is known,
Many a name, by man forgotten,
Lives forever round Thy throne;
Lights, which earth-born mists have darkened,
There are shining full and clear,
Princes in the court of Heaven,
Nameless, unremembered here.
In the roll of Thine apostles
One there stands, Bartholomew,
He for whom today we offer,
Year by year, our praises due;
How he toiled for Thee and suffered
None on earth can now record;
All his saintly life is hidden
In the knowledge of his Lord.
Was it he, beneath the fig tree
Seen of Thee, and guileless found;
He who saw the good he longed for
Rise from Nazareth’s barren ground;
He who met his risen Master
On the shore of Galilee;
He to whom the word was spoken,
"Greater things thou yet shall see"?
None can tell us; all is written
In the Lamb’s great book of life,
All the faith, and prayer, and patience,
All the toiling, and the strife;
There are told Thy hidden treasures;
Number us, O Lord, with them,
When Thou makest up the jewels
Of Thy living diadem.
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne