Redeemer Ev. Lutheran Church, Iola, WI

Sermons, Devotions, and News from Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iola, WI

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Love and St. Valentine

valentines
Cupid on a Vintage Valentine

For a little more than 1500 years, February 14th has been known as St. Valentine’s Day.  Pope St. Gelasius I (Pope from 492-496) is the likely founder of this day as the commemoration of St. Valentine, understanding February 14th as the day on which St. Valentine died.  However, there are possibly three different Ss. Valentine who died on this date in different years: St. Valentine of Terni, St. Valentine of Africa, and St. Valentine of Rome.  However, none of these three men have any reliable legends regarding love or marriage.  Somewhere between the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. there was an expansion made to the life of St. Valentine of Rome, assigning to him the miracle of healing the daughter of his jailer of her blindness.  However, this is not presented as a love story.

A number of other legends were recorded between A.D. 1260 and 1493, adding new ideas of one of the Ss. Valentine performing miracles or standing up against unjust rulers, all in the name of love or marriage.  Besides this, in the 1750s many secular critics began to have the idea that the choice of day for St. Valentine’s commemoration was due to the fact that the Romans had a number of festivals for their pagan gods around the same time, especially festivals for the dead or other obscure ideas.

The point is, there are a lot of ideas about what Valentine’s Day means, all invented and added sometime after A.D. 500.  Pope St. Gelasius I may be the only one remembered in history for having pure motives to observe St. Valentine’s Day.  Even today, the motives are hardly pure.  Valentine’s Day conjures in the mind every possible shade of pink and red, boxes of chocolate, flowers, and romantic exploits.  To put it bluntly, Valentine’s Day is, to the secular world at large, a festival to the Greek god Eros (Roman: Cupid).

Eros is one of three Greek words for “Love.”  Eros is romantic or sexual love, the sort of love that is embodied exclusively in desire and want.  Compare this with the two other Greek words for “Love”: Philos, which is brotherly love or affection and care and friendship.  It is the sort of love that is motivated by the enjoyment one feels in another’s company.  And the last love is Agape, which we may briefly define as undeserved love.  Agape is the kind of love mentioned in John 3:16, love that is not motivated by anything someone feels or wants to gain.  Agape love is love offered because one simply wishes to give.

Keeping in mind the nature of one who is truly a Saint, that is, one who has been clothed in the robes of Christ, which of these three loves should be the focus of St. Valentine’s Day?  Evangelical Lutheran Synod  pastor Rev. Joseph Abrahamson notices, looking at the three Ss. Valentine: “As far as we have records these Sts. Valentine are examples of men who did not love their life unto death, but considered everything in this world, including their own lives as nothing compared to the gift of the resurrection in Jesus Christ.”

Ask yourself this question on Valentine’s Day: should we focus on romantic love, the love we feel for people we find attractive for one reason or another, or should the focus be selfless love, Agape love, undeserved love, which we have received from God, who loved us even though we were his bitterest enemies, loved us even so that he would die for us to save us, love which he asks us to embody and perpetuate to others?

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-7)

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another….  We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:7-11, 19)

Thou sacred Love, grace on us bestow,
Set our hearts with heav’nly fire aglow
That with hearts united we love each other,
Of one mind, in peace with ev’ry brother.
Lord, have mercy! (ELH #33:3)

-Rev. Michael G. Lilienthal

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Feasting with God #22 – A Table in the Presence of My Enemies

Feasting with God #22

A Table in the Presence of My Enemies

Text: Psalm 23:5-6

5You prepare a table before me
     in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
     my cup overflows.
6
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
     all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
     forever.

This psalm is in our culture today among the most beloved, because of the great comfort it gives.  It begins with the personal care and comfort we claim from God, stating, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (23:1).  The very sick or the dying have found comfort in the passage, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (23:4).  God is present to the one who speaks this psalm, very close and providing comfort and care and guidance, and it moves us to let go of any reliance on ourselves and to yield to God’s caring arms, like a tired child in the arms of his parent.

The verses cited above are no different from the rest of the psalm; they speak of the same great comfort, but there’s something new: our comfort comes “in the presence of my enemies.”  It seems as though we mean to gloat: that we’re showing off to our enemies, proving the riches we have and letting them starve or eat dirt.  If we take that picture too far, it seems like we’re turning ourselves into the rich man who denied help to poor Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

This devotional series is called Feasting with God for a reason.  We are moved by these passages of Scripture to see the great blessings God provides for us, often spoken of metaphorically as a great banquet or feast.  God feeds his people, so that we never go hungry.  And the blessings of this food are explained in the passage above: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  The blessings that God feeds us with are goodness and mercy in this life, and dwelling in God’s house in eternal life.  We have two sorts of blessings: blessings now, and blessings hereafter.  These blessings are so great, and move us to such wonderful appreciation and thanksgiving to God, that we want to show them off, we want to share them.

Perhaps this means we share them with our friends, showing them what great blessings we have, as Peter writes encourages Christians to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).  Notice, they are the ones asking us.  So they have to see the evidence of our hope.  We hope in the blessings which we receive now, and which we will receive hereafter.  That ought to be visible.

But the text speaks specifically of enemies.  Christians have plenty of enemies.  The whole world is full of sin, and sometimes it is our own sin which is our enemy.  Sometimes it is the author of evil, the devil himself, seeking to tear us down.  Sometimes it is other people, who see the things we teach and believe that we are close-minded, old-fashioned, bigoted.  We can have courage in the face of all these troubles, however, because God provides a table of blessings before us, even before them.  Even when these enemies are gnashing their teeth at us the worst, we have God’s blessings.  And sometimes that means that those enemies will see our blessings as well.  Sometimes those enemies will notice that our spirit is not broken despite their best efforts.  Perhaps that will make those enemies lose heart, or perhaps it will cause those enemies to become jealous of our hope and blessings, and perhaps they’ll want to have some of those same blessings.

It’s always a good thing for our blessings to show.  No, these blessings aren’t physical things—perhaps we’re blessed with a good job, a happy family, a nice house, fine toys and things—the real blessings that we show, though, are the spiritual blessings we have received: faith in the one true God, in his Son Jesus Christ who died to win us eternal life.  Let the joy of that show on our faces.  Trust the Holy Spirit to keep us safe and secure in that faith.  And notice, it’s not up to us to try really hard to show it off.  It’s God who prepares this table before us.  Our faith rests fully and securely in him.

Dear Lord, our Good Shepherd, guide us as you have promised in green pastures and beside still waters.  Restore our souls and lead us in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.  When we face death or deep darkness, help us to fear no evil, knowing that you are with us, comforting us with your Word.  Prepare before us a table of sweet blessings that all our enemies may see.  Confirm your election of us by keeping us in faith, making us sure of the goodness and mercy that follow us in this life, and of the hope of our eternal life, dwelling in your house forever.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Feasting with God #19 – Communing with a Betrayer

Feasting with God #19

Communing with a Betrayer

 

Text: Luke 22:19-23

19And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

The Lord’s Supper is often called simply “Communion.” We refer to it in this way because in this meal, as we eat and drink our Lord’s body and blood we find ourselves in communion or fellowship with him. This meal brings us so close to Jesus, it is as though we are sitting down to an intimate dinner with family and close friends.  And not only are we in such close communion and fellowship with Christ, but we are with our fellow communing Christians – those who stand or kneel next to us at the altar rail, those in all other churches around the world, and even those who have died, the saints in heaven.  This sacrament is a sacrament of community, by which we confess that we share in the beliefs and mission of those we commune with.

But the first communion hosted an intruder.  It should have been the most intimate of suppers: Jesus and his closest followers, his twelve disciples.  But among them was the one who would betray their master.

Paul warns other Christians against the same thing in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27).  The Lord’s Supper brings us forgiveness, and where there is forgiveness there is also life and salvation.  These are brought to those who are in true communion with their Savior and with one another, but anyone who eats and drinks as though he is part of this communion and yet is not “eats and drinks judgment on himself” (11:29).  This difference we see between Judas and the other disciples, when we examine their ends.  Judas, who betrayed him, hanged himself in sorrow, unwilling to accept any forgiveness that would be offered to him.  The other disciples, after Jesus’ resurrection, were sent into the mission of their Lord, to make disciples of all nations and baptize them, and to teach them Jesus’ doctrines and truths.  This they did joyfully, because the forgiveness that was offered to them on account of Jesus’ death – the forgiveness tangibly fed to them in this communion, inspired this new life in them.

Let us be aware of the forgiveness we receive in this communion, and of the closeness of our relationship with our Lord and one another.  Judas sought silver to replace all that, but what could be a greater treasure than forgiveness, life, salvation, and communion with God and our fellow Christians?  All that is possible because of the sacrifice Jesus made and the Supper he instituted.

Dear Jesus, thank you for the great gift you have given us in the Sacrament of Communion.  Guide us to see the wonder of the forgiveness, life, and salvation we receive there, and move us into ever closer fellowship with you and one another.  Make our faith and new life sincere, and strengthen it by this Supper.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Feasting with God #18 – Our True Passover

Feasting with God #18

Our True Passover

Text: Exodus 12:3b-11

3b[E]very man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.  4And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the  lamb.  5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.  You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.  7Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  8They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.  9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and inner parts.  10And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.  11In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.  And you shall eat it in haste.  It is the Lord’s Passover.

Passover is almost universally considered to be the highest of all the Jewish festivals.  Every year when it is celebrated, it recalls the first time it was celebrated, when the Israelites were preparing to be freed from their slavery in Egypt.  It is a festival to commemorate the Lord’s providence and care for his people, and his promise for their deliverance.

But this festival has been fulfilled.  At its institution it was designed to prepare the Israelites to be delivered from bondage, and each celebration thereafter was to prepare them again for the greater deliverance.  Look closely at the recipe for this festival, and we’ll see what it means.

Each household was to take “a lamb…without blemish”: a perfect lamb without any defect or imperfections to be found.  Then this lamb was to be killed, its blood used to mark the doorposts and lintels of the houses, then roasted and eaten entirely by the family—and eaten “in haste,” “with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.”  So, being ready to get up and leave at a moment’s notice, the families were to eat the meat of a perfect lamb whose blood marked their houses.

Of course, we know from the rest of this story in the book of Exodus, at midnight while these people were inside celebrating the Passover, all the firstborn in the land of Egypt were being killed by the angel of God.  But this death passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb marking them.  This all foreshadowed something greater, and that greater thing has been fulfilled.

The true Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, was killed just after the celebration of a Passover around 2000 years ago.  His disciples had been given his flesh and blood to eat and drink when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  Then, a night that seemed to last from Friday evening until Sunday morning left Jesus’ disciples in fear.  But when the dawn came on Easter Sunday, their Teacher came to them and led them out of their hiding places, taught them about the joy of God’s deliverance, and told them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

You see, Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, whom God selected to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.  Now, those who are marked by Jesus’ blood will be passed over by death, so that our deaths lead only to eternal life.  We come out of our temporary, earthly homes, in bondage to this sinful world, rising to new life in our Lord Jesus.  Because our baptisms have washed us in the blood of the Lamb, we are delivered by God.  Because we are strengthened by the meal of Christ’s body and blood, we are prepared for the journey through this world to our resurrections.

For Christians, the festival of Passover is a reflection of the time that God delivered his covenant people from slavery, and also an illustration of how God ultimately delivered the whole world from slavery to sin.  With our belts around our waists, our shoes on our feet, and our walking sticks in our hands, we can now be ready to go through this world in the confidence of our Savior, who leads us to eternal life.

Dear Jesus, our true Passover Lamb, help us always to look to your sacrifice for our confidence in this sinful world.  Help us to look to our baptisms, to your holy Supper, and to your Word for our strengthening as we march on to our resurrections.  Help us to deliver that same message to others, so that when the Last Day comes, many others may be marked in your blood and brought into eternal life.  In your name we ask all this.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Epiphany – After the Twelve Days of Christmas

January 6th is the festival of the Epiphany.  In our liturgical calendar, the next few Sundays are called “Sundays after Epiphany,” to observe this celebration.  While Christmas is a familiar holiday, however, not many recognize what Epiphany means.

The word “epiphany” comes from Greek, and means “manifestation.”  In this holiday, it is recognized how God manifested himself, or made himself present and visible to the world, in the person of Jesus Christ.  We can define the difference between Christmas and Epiphany by saying that Christmas celebrates Jesus as True Man, while Epiphany celebrates him as Very God.

In some parts of Christendom (specifically the Eastern Churches) Epiphany is regarded as the actual celebration of Christmas.  There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most compelling is that while Christmas celebrates Christ’s birth, Epiphany celebrates his revelation to the world and the beginning of his ministry and work.  Christmas is his birthday, while Epiphany is his coronation.  Epiphany, in fact, is closer in relevance to the average human population than Christmas is – Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds are really the only ones directly affected by Christmas.  Epiphany meant that God had come to fulfill his promised work of salvation.

There are several little epiphanies celebrated during this season.  Historically, the first “epiphany” is the coming of the Magi or the wise men to worship Jesus.  They were the first from the broader world to see this God-Man, and actually to bow down before him, recognizing his glory and power.  Other epiphanies include when Jesus was presented at the temple and Simeon sang his famous song of thanks to God for sending salvation, when Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove and the Father declared him publicly his Son and endorsed his mission, when Jesus performed his first miracle and demonstrated his divine power to the wedding guests at Cana, and when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain before his disciples so that they could see his divine glory.

All of these epiphanies and more are designed to bring proof to the world that Jesus is God made Man, that he is the promised Messiah and the Christ, and that he is the Savior of the world.  After seeing what this season and this holiday is about, can you fail to recognize its blessed significance?

At Redeemer this season, we celebrate on January 11th the Baptism of Jesus, on January 18th and 25th the calling of disciples by God, on February 1st and 8th the miracles of Jesus, and on February 15th the Transfiguration.

Redeemer Report 1.2 (October 2014)

Read the Church Newsletter Oct 2014 here!

Redeemer Report 1.1 (September 2014)

Read the Church Newsletter Sept 2014 here!

St. Michael and All Angels

September 29th is historically known as “Michaelmas,” or, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, a day of the year set aside as the celebration of the angels in the Church.

Angels are discussed throughout Scripture as winged beings, some with two wings (1 Kings 6:24), some with four wings (Ezekiel 1:6), and some with six wings (Isaiah 6:2).  Sometimes, though, they appear in human form (Gen. 19:1-5), so that, as the writer to the Hebrews says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebr. 13:2).

There are a number of ranks among the angels, each seemingly designated a special purpose.  The cherubim are described by Ezekiel (1:5-14, 10:20), and are the same type that adorn the ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 4:4).  It would seem, then, that the cherubim are a kind of honor guard to the throne of God.

The seraphim are often described in a glorious light, and would seem to be the messengers who spoke to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:13-14).

Archangels are the highest order of angel, their name meaning “chief angels.”  Michael is the only one explicitly named as an archangel, so it is unclear whether he is the only one or whether there are several others.

Michael is also one of only two angels given names in the Bible, the other being Gabriel.  Whereas Michael is usually considered a royal and warrior-type of angel, Gabriel is a messenger and a herald.  Michael’s name means “Who is like God?” and Gabriel’s means “Strong man of God.”  There is another angel given a name in the Apocrypha, Raphael, whose name means “God heals,” but his existence may by mythical.

The angels may have different specific purposes, but they are unified in one common overarching purpose: service in the kingdom of God.  The word “angel” literally means “messenger,” and our word “evangelism” comes from the same word.  Angels are therefore those tasked with delivering the messages of God—which we see accomplished in many of their appearances throughout Scripture, such as appearing to Mary and to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, likewise coming to Abraham to tell of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But they are also soldiers in God’s armies.  Jesus said he could call down legions of angels to defend him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:53), and in Revelation 12:7-12 they are pictured as a fighting force that defeats Satan and the evil angels.  They are also the protectors of God’s people, as when Daniel was in the lions’ den “God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths” (Dan. 6:22).

St. Michael Slaying the Dragon

Ultimately, the angels serve God and, therefore, his followers: “Are [the angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebr. 1:14); “Let all God’s angels worship him” (1:6); “For he will command his angels concerning you / to guard you in all your ways” (Ps. 91:11).  Therefore, the doctrine of guardian angels is sound.

We can take comfort in the protection of God’s mighty angels, but, even greater, at the command of our conquering Lord these angels have cast Satan out of heaven, signifying that the devil has no power to blot our names from the Book of Life.

St. Matthew the Evangelist and Apostle

Today is the celebration of St. Matthew the Evangelist and Apostle.  As we have done previously, what follows is some background on the life and work of this saint.

All that we know of the apostle Matthew’s early life is that he was a tax collector.  This was a position which caused him to be hated by the Jews, because he served the Roman oppressors, and because tax collectors were famous for shaving off extra money for themselves.  But this was a life that he left behind him when Jesus said, “Follow me” (Matt. 9:9).

With the other eleven, Matthew served as an apostle of Christ, and received the same commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).  According to tradition, Matthew went and preached to the Egyptians, converting the whole country, and it was there also, according to legend, that he was betrayed by the king and murdered while offering prayers in the church.

But the most famous of Matthew’s evangelism efforts is in the writing of his Gospel.  The Holy Spirit spoke through Matthew as he wrote this work, which had as its aim specifically to preach the message of the Messiah to the Hebrews.  In his Gospel, he points specifically to Christ as true Man (and therefore Matthew’s symbol is often that of a winged man), thereby demonstrating the humility of our Savior.

If one word were used to describe St. Matthew, it would be humility.  In his Gospel he refers to himself continually as “Matthew the tax collector,” showing what humble beginnings he had.  Like all Christians, Matthew’s hope was not in himself or in anything he could do, but in the almighty God who became a man such as us, so that he could show us his mercy and grant us salvation.

St. Bartholomew

Introduction: How a Lutheran Regards the Saints

The Augsburg Confession states that “the remembrance of the saints may be commended to us so that we imitate their faith and good works according to our calling…. However, the Scriptures do not teach us to pray to the saints or seek their help, for the only mediator, propitiation, highpriest, and intercessor whom the Scriptures set before us is Christ” (AC XXI, Tappert).

Lutherans teach three benefits that may be gained by examining the lives of the saints: 1) Thanksgiving to God for sending teachers and other gifts to his Church; 2) The strengthening of our faith by the examples of how God provided for his saints in the past; 3) The examples of godly living provided by the saints which we may imitate.

We do not pray to the saints, nor do we give them any glory that rightfully belongs to God, but we honor their lives as one honors the soldier who gave his life for a righteous cause.

St. Bartholomew

Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and is usually identified as the same as Nathanael, and he was one of those to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (John 21). The story goes (although it is not certain) that Bartholomew went on a missionary tour tho India, where he preached the Gospel and left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. He is also supposed to have evangelized in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, and other parts of Greece.

Bartholomew is said to have been martyred in Armenia. According to tradition, he converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity, after which Astyages, Polymius’ brother, ordered his execution. Bartholomew was then flayed alive and crucified upside-down.

image

The symbol of Bartholomew is often a silver knife with a golden handle over a golden book, with a red shield behind. This symbol represents Bartholomew’s faithfulness to the Word of God, even as the knife took his life. Other symbols include three knives (again to recall Bartholomew’s martyrdom), or the branch of a fig tree, to recall what Jesus said to him in John 1:48: “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

The question of what Jesus meant by that revelation has bothered theologians for centuries, especially because of Bartholomew’s reaction: he responded by exclaiming a confession of Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel. Some have thought that Bartholomew’s reaction was too intense for Jesus’ statement to be merely a demonstration of his omniscience. Somehow, what Jesus saw was enough to show Bartholomew that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, as Philip had told Bartholomew.

It was the custom of devout Jews at this time to study the Scriptures and the Talmud in some quiet, secluded place. Bartholomew may have chosen the quiet shade of a fig tree as his place of meditation, and so here he read the Word of God, and here he prayed to his God – perhaps he even prayed for the Messiah to come. What Jesus saw of Bartholomew was not merely Bartholomew’s physical presence, but his prayers. Jesus, as God incarnate, saw into the heart of this man, heard his prayers, and knew how deeply he desired that salvation would come. When Jesus told Bartholomew that he had seen him, Bartholomew knew that this was the one who was the hope of all Israel.

Of course, this is an interpretation, which cannot be definitively proved. In the account in John’s Gospel we are given only a mystery, and our imaginations seek to fill in the gaps. We can only take the facts given to us in the Word: that Bartholomew was a devout Israelite who hoped for the coming of the promised Messiah, and when Jesus met him, Bartholomew believed. We can only acknowledge the faith of this disciple and the power of Christ, whose revelation brought him to faith as his disciple.

August 24th had been held as the day of St. Bartholomew since the Middle Ages and before in Western Christianity, to celebrate the life and martyrdom of this witness of the Gospel.