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Homily for August 25, 2021 – Feast of Saint Bartholomew

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Feast of Saint Bartholomew

(Revelation 21: 9b-14, John 1: 45-51)

Today’s first reading offers us a vision of the Church, Christ’s spotless bride, clothed in splendor and walking in God’s unapproachable light. The mystery of God’s love and mercy is that he can create a bride without spot or wrinkle from members that are spotted and wrinkled. God sees and loves the image and likeness of his Beloved Son that is implanted in hearts of flesh. Because the Lamb takes delight in His Bride, all we need to do is surrender to his loving embrace. Just as Nathanael found life while sitting in the shade of the fig tree, we are called to bask in the light of the Tree of Life that was found worthy to hold the limbs of our crucified savior.

In his wounds we find healing. Having been crucified with Him, we are brought to the fullness of life and made members of the bride without spot or wrinkle. Like Nathanael, we are invited to come and see the one who calls us to wholeness. Coming out from the land of shadows, we are invited to walk in the splendor of heavenly glory, shining on the face of Christ. Philip’s response to Nathanael’s sarcastic question is a gem. He does not argue. He simply invites his friend to check Jesus out. Nothing outdoes a personal encounter with the living God. Come and see. Coming to know the Lord is as simple as deciding to check him out. Like Nathanael, we will discover that Christ has already checked us out, spots, wrinkles, and all. In the encounter, we will find the deepest longings of our hearts satisfied.

If like Nathanael, we take the challenge to check Christ out, we may be surprised. These words spoken by the prophet Isaiah will resonate in our hearts. “I was ready to be sought by those who did not seek me. I allowed myself to be found by those who did not seek me” (Is. 65:1). Faith is a response to an invitation that comes from God. Christ who knows the longings of the human heart desires a heart-to-heart conversation with us. God who looks beyond our gruff exterior, peers into the depths of our hearts to see the reflection of His Beloved Son. Like Nathanael who came out of the shade of the fig tree, we are called to stand in the glow of the Flame of Divine Love and be grafted to the righteous branch, the living vine. Having been made one with Christ, the Good Shepherd, we can place ourselves at the service of others. Remember, Christ emptied himself so that we might be filled. Like Him, we need to empty ourselves so that others might find newness of life. We need never fear the future because the Risen Lord is our Rock of Salvation and the cause of our joy. In all that we do, we need only focus our attention on giving glory to God. Our opportunities are limitless. Pope Francis offered this simple phrase. “The horizon of faith in Christ is the entire world.”