During today's general audience and in continuation of the catechesis dedicated to the apostles, Benedict XVI spoke about Bartholomew. The audience was celebrated in St. Peter's Square with approximately 30,000 present.
The Pope said: This apostle, "of whom we have little news (...) is traditionally identified with Nathaniel, a name that means 'God has given'." In the evangelical vocation, the Apostle Phillip tells him of having encountered Jesus, the Messiah, who had come from Nazareth and Nathaniel answers in a prejudiced way; "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
The Holy Father explained that "this sort of opposition is important for us. It shows us that, according to the Judaic expectations, the Messiah could never come from such an obscure town (...) At the same time however, it emphasizes God's freedom, which surprises our expectations by being found where least expected".
He continues: "The story of Nathaniel also offers another reflection: in our relationship with Jesus, words are not enough. Phillip invites Nathaniel meet Jesus personally: "Come and see!" Our knowledge of Jesus, above all, needs the live experiencing: the witness of others is certainly important, since, usually, all our Christian life begins with the proclamation that comes to us from one or more witnesses. However, it is up to us to become personally involved in an intimate and deep relationship with Jesus".
Later, in his dialogue with Jesus, Nathaniel would conclude with a profession of faith: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" These words spoken by Nathaniel "highlight a dual, complementary aspect on the identity of Jesus: (...) His special relationship with God the Father, being the one and only Son, and with the people of Israel, having been declared their king".
Benedict XVI said: "We must never lose sight of these two dimensions because if we only proclaim the heavenly dimension of Jesus, we run the risk of making Him and ethereal and evanescent being; while, to the contrary, if we only recognize His physical presence in history, we would end up forgetting His Divine dimension, which qualifies Him."
The Pope concluded: "We do not have detailed news about Bartholomew's later apostolic activities. (...) The figure of Saint Bartholomew remains before us to tell us that deep adhesion to Jesus can be lived and witnessed even without the achievement of sensational works".