Today is the feast of the apostle, Bartholomew. A commentary reminds me that we know very little about most of these people, the closest companions of Jesus. This is clearly true about Bartholomew who is sometimes known by the name of Nathaniel. (Not even a close guess, right?) That same commentary from http://www.americancatholic.org says the following:
Yet the unknown ones were also foundation stones, the 12 pillars of the new Israel whose 12 tribes now encompass the whole earth. Their personalities were secondary…to their great office of bearing tradition from their firsthand experience, speaking in the name of Jesus, putting the Word made flesh into human words for the enlightenment of the world. Their holiness was not an introverted contemplation of their status before God. It was a gift that they had to share with others.
I found that theme interesting in light of the psalm refrain from today’s lectionary readings, the first thing that caught my attention this morning. Four times as I read the response: Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom, (Ps. 145:12) I was struck by the word friends. So I was already musing on what it means to be a friend of God – similar yet different from a servant or follower. David, the psalm-maker and Moses and Abraham before him and many others named and unnamed in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (and in other traditions as well) have been friends of God. Why not me? Why not you? Psalm 145 says in an alternate translation: For we are instruments of beauty that extend your reign; our voices speak of power that is ever yours, till all may know and understand your energies and live within the splendor of your realm. (vs. 11-12)
It seems, therefore, that it’s not important whether or not we are credited with being God’s friend or a favored disciple of the Christ but rather whether we have shared the love, joy, beauty and support of that friendship with others along the way. Why not me? Why not you? Good questions for today.