The Pharisees sometimes abused their authority, yet Jesus said to obey them. Our religious leaders, from time to time, have abused their authority. That should never be an excuse to reject the Church or the teachings of Jesus.
Little is known of St. Bartholomew in the Synoptics other than he is listed in the List of the 12 Apostles (paired with Philip). In the Gospel according to John, the name doesn’t appear at all, but there is a Nathaniel connected to St. Philip. This has led many commentators to link the two and say they are the same person. Perhaps, the most famous passage about Nathaniel is when he remarks “what good ever came out of Nazareth” when Philip tells him he has found the Messiah and He’s Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus then appears on the scene and tells Nathaniel He knew before He saw him under the tree, to which Nathaniel is very impressed. Jesus then says to him (in modern slang), “if you thought that was good you ain’t seen nothing yet.” One of the few jocular elements in the gospels. And, of course, Nathaniel observed far greater things in the time he spent with Jesus.
Do you realize that today is the Octave (8th day since) the Solemnity of the Assumption? Thus, we have the Queenship of Mary. These two Marian feasts are, of course, the 4th and 5th Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. They are connected. As a special privilege, Mary’s Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, assumed her body and soul into heaven and crowned her queen, the Queen Mom, if you will, since He is the King of the Universe, 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Mary, pray for us.
In the Near East of Jesus’ time, “faith” is best understood as loyalty and allegiance to someone, no matter what. In the story, the pagan woman stays committed to Jesus no matter what He says and does. She wasn’t put off by Him. In the time of Jesus, this kind of loyalty is rewarded: Jesus cures her child.
In the news, we see how loyalty often is not rewarded. Long time employees are often let go close to retirement to keep them from getting full benefits. Others are let go and replaced by less skilled and lesser paying employees. Loyalty to the firm is not rewarded. WE see it in terms of committment to Jesus and His church. How many people do you know who were brought up in the Church, turn away from it for all kinds of reasons. They have lost their committment to Jesus and the Church. Often we hear how the third largest Christian denomination are fallen away Catholics who no longer attend the Catholic Church. What can you do to reacativate loyal committment to Jesus and His Church?
Remember the film “Chariots of Fire,” and its catchy musical score? It was about Eric Liddell from the UK who refused to run the 100 meters race, he was expected to win the gold, because it was on a Sunday. He decided to run a distance, 400 meters instead because it wasn’t on a Sunday. He’d never run it before. Before the race, an American came up and handed him a slip of paper on which was written, “My Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” He ran the race with that paper in his hand and he won! “Those who trust in the Lord… will run and not grow weary.” (Is 40:31)
“Forgive others,” Jesus said, “and God will forgive You.” We pray that in the “Our Father,” don’t we? The safest and surest insurance policy against the loss of heaven is to forgive others from the heart. Yet, so many have such a hard time doing this. “Blessed are the merciful for they will obtain mercy.”
A pastor received a call from a TV station in Washington, DC. The caller wanted to know if the rumor was true and that the President was going to attend services at his church. the Pastor replied: “I don’t know the President’s plans, but I can tell you Jesus will be there!”
Jesus said that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is among them. Have you ever experienced Jesus’ presence while at prayer with others? As John Angotti might sing: “There is a presence in this place.”