A number of “Barts” come to mind: Bart Simpson (of The Simpsons, a show, I confess, I’ve never seen!), Bart Starr (two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the Green Bay Packers), and perhaps BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Yet none of these are the original Bart.
Today is the Feast Day of St. Bartholomew, we could call him St. Bart. Bartholomew was one of the 12 original disciples, one the of 12 apostles. We are introduced to him in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 43-51. There he is called Nathanael. In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) he is called Bartholomew in the list of the apostles.
The next day he decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. 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 Israelite. 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 the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Bartholomew is known as a “true Israelite.” Jesus himself says, “There is no duplicity in him.” What a statement of affirmation of his character! No duplicity! By definition there was in Bartholomew no dishonesty, no deception. Another way of stating it, is to say that in Bartholomew there was no double-mindedness of thought, speech, action.
Wherever the apostle went with the gospel, he proclaimed it boldly. According to tradition his passion for the message of Jesus Christ took him to India and then to Armenia. It is believed that after he preached to and converted the king of Armenia, the king’s brother fearing a backlash from the Romans against Christianity, he ordered Bartholomew tortured which included having his skin flayed from his body and then he was beheaded.
St. Bartholomew, apostle of integrity, pray for us!