Today is the feast of the apostle Bartholomew. His given name was Nathaniel, but as the son of Ptolemy, he was also called Bar-ptolemy. The Bible offers us no life histories of the twelve Apostles, and the reason for that omission was that their individual stories were not seen to be of importance.
Their worth was in showing that Christianity was the equal of Judaism in that it too was founded on twelve patriarchs. That belief was brought out in our first reading that describes the heavenly Jerusalem as having a gate for each of the sons of Jacob, and a course of stones bearing the name of each of the twelve Apostles.
Jesus greeted Nathaniel by saying, “Here is a true son of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Israel was the other name of Jacob who tricked his father Isaac into giving him his older brother’s birthright. Jesus was saying that Nathaniel would be more honest. Perhaps he meant that his apostles in general would be more honest than the twelve sons of Jacob.
Apart from that, Our Lord’s greeting of Nathaniel as a man without duplicity offers each of us an opportunity for self-examination. Are we honest with ourselves and with those with whom we have dealings?
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