Tag Archives: Apostle

St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr

August 18, 2017


St. Bartholomew

A true Israelite without duplicity

When Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Israel, saw Bartholomew, Jesus said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (Jn 1:47). This was not an ordinary comment or simple observation. It was a keen insight and a tremendous compliment.

The “true Israelite” of the Old Testament is Jacob. After Jacob wrestled with an angel, the angel gave him the name “Israel” (Gn 32:29), a name that God confirmed (Gn 35:10). Jacob is the first and original Israelite. He is the third patriarch. His grandparents were Abraham and Sarah, and his parents were Isaac and Rebekah. He had a twin brother, Esau, who was born first (Gn 25:21-26) and possessed the birthright. Jacob was devious or duplicitous because he tricked his father Isaac into giving him the birthright that he intended to give to his firstborn son Esau (Gn 27). Jacob may have been a true Israelite, but he sinned; he was a man with duplicity.

Bartholomew excelled his ancestor Jacob. Bartholomew was not an Israelite in name alone. It was a description of his spiritual condition, the state of his soul. He was a model Jew, a man who loved God with his whole heart and embraced his Jewish faith. He was righteous in that he meticulously observed the Mosaic Law. He was just and honest, truthful and trustworthy, a man of integrity with impeccable character. As a true Israelite, he was also a man of prayer, and his prayerfulness showed itself in his virtue. He was loving and kind, patient and understanding, humble and gentle, well-mannered and polite, compassionate and merciful, generous and faithful, modest and pure, industrious and reliable, and attentive to the needs of others, particularly the poor and disadvantaged. He was pleasing to God and a shining example to others of how to live the Jewish faith.

Bartholomew was unlike his spiritual ancestor Jacob. Jacob was duplicitous and Bartholomew was not. Duplicity means two or double. A duplicitous person is two-faced, someone who projects a good and honorable outward appearance yet has a hidden dark evil side; an individual who is sly, sneaky, and dishonest. Jacob deceived his father Isaac. Jacob wore his brother’s clothes, covered his smooth skin with animal hides, brought his father a meal that he neither caught nor prepared, and lied when he impersonated his brother.

Bartholomew, on the other hand, was a man without duplicity. He was good inside and out. There was no conniving or scheming, no secret agendas or ulterior motives. He was honest, straightforward, trustworthy, and innocent. Everything was above board. When it came to Bartholomew, “what you see is what you get.”

Bartholomew is a model and an inspiration for how to be a disciple of Jesus. As Bartholomew was a true Israelite, it should be the goal of every Catholic to be a true Christian, and as Bartholomew was a man without duplicity, it should be the goal of every Catholic to be good inside and out.

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St. James the Lesser, Apostle and Martyr

April 29, 2016

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StJamesLesserApostolic Identity.  There are two St. James among the original twelve apostles:  St. James the Greater whose feast is on July 25, and St. James the Less, the Lesser, or the Minor, whose feast is on May 3 and shared with St. Philip.  He is the second James on the New Testament lists of apostles (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13).  There are several explanations for why he is called “less.”  The most widely accepted reason is that he was younger than the other James who was greater in years.  Some believe that it was because of his short stature, that he was lesser in height, or because he was called at a later time than James the Greater.

Family Relationship.  St. James was the son of Alphaeus and Mary (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40).  His brother was Joseph or Joses. He is also known as the brother or cousin of the Lord.  The people of Nazareth asked of Jesus, “[Are not] his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?” (Mt 13:55; see Mt 12:46), or “James and Joses and Judas and Simon” (Mk 6:3).

Special Encounter.  Jesus appeared to James after he rose from the dead (1 Cor 15:7).

Apostolic Ministry.  James was the head of the early Christian church in Jerusalem and is regarded as its first bishop. When Peter was released from prison, he asked that word be sent to James (Acts 12:17).  James presided over the Council of Jerusalem in 51 AD, and with great wisdom and compassion, argued that Gentile converts not be obligated to follow the Jewish dietary laws (Acts 15:13-21), and because of his fairness, he is also known as James the Just.  Paul met with James in Jerusalem at least twice, once in 37 AD after he had spent fifteen days with Peter (Gal 1:18-19), and again in 56 AD when he conferred with James and the other presbyters (Acts 21:18).  Paul called James a “pillar” of the community, along with Peter and John (Gal 2:9), and acknowledged that he had a role in commissioning Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.  The Letter of James is attributed to him (Jas 1:1).

A Martyr’s Death.  James preached the gospel with exceptional zeal in Jerusalem for over thirty years, and he inspired many people to become believers in Jesus.  His successes were met with fierce opposition by the leaders of the Jews who wanted to kill him.  In 62 AD a group of furious scribes and Pharisees demanded that James renounce Jesus, and when he flatly refused, they apprehended him, stormed to the pinnacle of the Temple and hurled him down to an angry mob below.  Still alive, the mob began to stone him, and as he prayed for their forgiveness, he was bludgeoned to death with clubs.

Symbols.  In religious art, St. James is represented by a bat or a fuller’s club as well as one or more stones, the instruments of his martyrdom, or an image of the Temple because he was thrown from it.  He is also sometimes depicted with a book or a scroll because he preached the gospel, with a pastoral staff or a walking stick because he was the shepherd of the church of Jerusalem, or a green branch or palm because he was a martyr.  There is another not widely accepted tradition that he was cut in half, so he is sometimes represented by a saw.

Patronage.  Along with St. Joseph, he is the patron saint of the dying.  He is also the patron saint of fullers, those who clean, shrink, and thicken cloth; hatters; and druggists.

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November 30, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr

November 30, 2010


St. Andrew with X shaped cross at St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi

An Apostle’s Feast Day. November 30 is the feast of St. Andrew.  All three Synoptic gospels as well as Acts list him as one of the original Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13).

Gospel Information on Andrew. Andrew was born and raised in Bethsaida (Jn 1:44), a fishing village on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, only a short distance from Capernaum, another town about a mile to the west.  He had a least one brother, Peter, and they were both fisherman (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16).   At some point they acquired a home in Capernaum where they lived together (Mk 1:29).  Andrew was a Jew, and from the context of Mark’s gospel, it is presumed that he worshiped in the synagogue in Capernaum (see Mk 1:16-31).

Two Versions of Andrew’s Call. When John the Baptist began his prophetic ministry in the desert, Andrew became one of his disciples (Jn 1:35).  On one occasion Jesus walked by and the Baptizer pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” and when Andrew heard this he transferred allegiance and became Jesus’ follower (Jn 1:36-37).  According to the Fourth Gospel Andrew received his call to become a disciple not from Jesus but from the Baptist, and was the first person to become a follower, and it is for this reason that the Eastern Church calls Andrew the “Protoclete” or “the first called.”  Andrew, in turn, went to his brother Simon Peter and called him to follow Jesus (Jn 1:41-42).  Matthew and Mark tell Andrew’s call story differently.  They report that Peter and Andrew were fishing, and that as Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, he beckoned, “Come, follow me,” and they left their nets immediately and followed him (Mt 4:18-20; Mk 1:16-18).

Andrew’s Faith.
Andrew came to faith very quickly, almost instantly, due to Jesus’ compelling presence.  After Andrew met Jesus and stayed with him for only a day, he declared to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:51).

Additional New Testament Information on Andrew. Jesus had a special core group of disciples who were his closest partners, Peter, James, and John, but there were two occasions when Andrew was a fourth:  when Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law and when Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple (Mk 1:29; 13:3).  Andrew is mentioned in three other instances:  when Jesus fed the five thousand, it was Andrew who identified the boy with the five barley loaves and the two fish (Jn 6:8-9); when some Greeks came to Jerusalem for an audience with Jesus, it was Andrew who approached Jesus on their behalf (Jn 12:20,22); and when the apostles were gathered in the upper room before Pentecost, Andrew was there (Acts 1:13).

Early Church History.
The rest of St. Andrew’s story is provided by historians, not Scripture.  After Pentecost Andrew became a missionary and probably traveled to Bithynia, south of the Black Sea, now northern Turkey; and Scythia, much further east between the Black and Caspian Seas, modern Georgia of the USSR.  There are legends that Andrew went to Poland, northern Europe, and Scotland; and general agreement that he went to Macedonia, northern Greece, and Achaia, southern Greece, where he was martyred in Patras in 60 AD on an X-shaped cross.

St. Andrew’s Intercession. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Scotland, and Greece, as well as fishermen, fish merchants, sailors, and spinsters or old maids.

St. Andrew’s Symbols. Andrew is represented by an X-shaped cross, the instrument of his crucifixion; a single fish or a fishing net, signs of his profession; a pair of crisscrossed fish which recall both his vocation as a fisher of people and the manner of his death; a carpenter’s square because he helped to build the Church; and a palm branch because he was a martyr.

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