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Bart from the Start

Today is the feast of St. Bartholomew, who’s called Nathanael in John’s Gospel (Jn 1:45-51). St. Augustine paid tribute to our apostle in his Tractates on the Gospel of John. Here’s a snippet:

What sort of a man was this? … Hear the Lord bearing testimony to Nathanael: “Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!'” Great testimony! Not of Andrew, nor of Peter, nor of Philip was that said which was said of Nathanael, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” What great testimony! What was said of Nathanael was said not of Andrew, nor Peter, nor Philip, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” …

Jesus then saw this man in whom was no guile, and said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” … His words, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel,” were not dissimilar to those of Peter so long afterwards, when the Lord said to him, “Blessed art you, Simon Bar Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but My Father in heaven.” And there He named the rock, and praised the strength of the Church’s support in this faith. Here already Nathanael says, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Read the rest here (scroll down to number 16 and following).

(Today’s also my firstborn‘s birthday. He attained the mighty rank of Star Scout last night.)

4 thoughts on “Bart from the Start

  1. Why does St. Augustine say:

    “Not only is Nathanael not found as first among the apostles, but he is neither the middle nor the last among the twelve…
    Nathanael was learned and skilled in the law and for that reason was the Lord unwilling to place him among His disciples, because He chose unlearned persons, that He might by them confound the world…
    This man, then, was great and without guile, and for this reason only was not chosen, lest the Lord should seem to any to have chosen the learned.”

  2. Give Michael our best wishes for a happy birthday. And congratulations on achieving the status of Star Scout.

  3. Tomislav,
    Follow the link and read St. Augustine’s entire section on Nathanael. He develops the idea at length. I think Augustine is trying to show why Jesus chose Peter as prince of the apostles over the more erudite Nathanael, who confessed the Lord’s divinity much earlier than Peter did.

  4. Hi Mike,

    I appreciate the primer, on this the feast of our son Nate’s namesake!

    Happy birthday to Michael, too :-)

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