Some of us were taught the names of the twelve apostles – the closest companions of Jesus during his public life – as they’re listed in the gospels. I get stuck sometimes when running the list but am always sure I could find them again if need be. There are also a couple of texts where we find Jesus calling one or another of these “Twelve” to follow him. What some may not be aware of (and what is rarely noticed) is that the apostle in the list whose feast is today, Bartholomew, is also the one to whom Jesus said “I saw you under the fig tree” whose name is Nathaniel!
Scholars have undoubtedly wrestled with this issue – or found a simple answer to it. I have just never heard any explanation. What it does remind me, however, is that we know very little about the close companions of Jesus but that they were more or less like all of us: faithful but sometimes clueless, obedient to the mission, and even passionate about it, regular folks who were not chosen for their scholarship or IQ but rather by their willingness and ability to follow the one who was unlike any other “Master,” who called them to a ministry of love and service that meant giving their lives to God, whatever that meant.
When the apostles said “Yes” to Jesus, they likely had no idea what it would cost but they gave it anyway. We might say the same thing in our living out of our commitments for the good of humanity and the love of God. Living every day is the only way it works. Opening ourselves and not worrying about becoming famous – or even whether people remember our names – is the way of close companionship with Christ. And that relationship is worth everything.