Today we celebrate the legacy of someone we know next to nothing about. You’ve heard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Perhaps we could call today the Feast of the Unknown Apostle! I’m speaking, of course, about St. Bartholomew.
We know that he’s an apostle. We know that he was born in Cana of Galilee. We know that he was first brought to Jesus by Philip, because today’s gospel tells us that. And we know that he was sometimes called Nathaniel, because today’s gospel tells us that too. Later traditions say that he traveled to India, maybe he wrote a gospel that’s now lost to us, and was martyred for the faith. But that’s about it!
But perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t know much about St. Bart. Maybe the fact that we don’t have a lengthy chronicle of his teachings and mighty deeds should remind us that as Christians, we aren’t meant to draw attention to ourselves.
Instead, we’re asked to die to self, and live for Christ;
We’re to build up God’s kingdom, not our own reputations;
It’s God’s glory we are to seek, and not our own;
Self-sacrifice, and not self-promotion, is our goal;
We are to ask: “Lord, what can I do for you?” and not, “Lord, what’s in it for me?”
History doesn’t always remember those who answered this call, but heaven is full of them. And we know that St. Bartholomew is in heaven! But at the end of the day, perhaps that’s all we really need to know.
Readings for today's Mass: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082411.cfm