St. Bartholomew and Reaching Out

This weekly bulletin insert complements the curriculum published by the Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America. This and many other Christian Education resources are available at

The Church celebrates Saint Bartholomew, also called Nathaniel, one of the twelve apostles and a man who "reached out" further than most. Bartholomew made quite a spiritual journey, beginning by cynically asking about Jesus, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1: 46). But his understanding deepened in the Lord's company, and after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost he was ready to go and preach in Asia, Phrygia, and remote places whose names we don't know. In India he translated Matthew's Gospel into the people's language. He died a martyr, and his relics, now in Rome, are a source of miraculous healing.

Saint Bartholomew went from cynically observing and questioning to humbly following and serving in his "journey" toward Jesus Christ. He went on to do such great work that the kontakion for his feast day calls him a "great sun appearing to the universe" because of his teaching and miracles.

Kontakion - Tone 4

You have appeared to the universe
as a great sun,
shining with the radiance of your teachings
and awesome miracles.
You enlighten those who honor you,
apostle of the Lord, Bartholomew.

This is the kind of change that an encounter with Jesus Christ could bring about in people. When He meets Nathanael, Jesus doesn't act offended at the disparaging comment Nathanael has made about Nazareth and, by extension, about Jesus Himself. Instead He praises him as an Israelite "in whom there is no guile" or, in other words, as someone who speaks his mind honestly and does not hide what he believes. Jesus looks deeply into the man and will not be put off by a remark that He knows only reflects his surface.

We may encounter people who say something that we could choose to find insulting or offensive. But perhaps by doing so we would miss discovering their true depth. If instead we choose to reach out to those people, we may begin to form bonds of closeness, as Nathanael did with Our Lord that day.