Thursday, August 24, 2017

Saint Bartholomew and the fig tree



Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles, usually identified with Nathanael. According to tradition he preached in India and Armenia and was martyred by being skinned alive. When Philip told him about Jesus, Nathanael at first dismissed it, saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But he goes with Philip to see Jesus, who says to Nathanael, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael replies, “Where did you get to know me? And Jesus says, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Jn 1:46-49).

What does this mean? Jesus praises Nathanael as a true Israelite. Jacob had been deceitful but after struggling with God, his name was changed to Israel. The prophet Hosea spoke of Israel as being like a fig tree: “Like grapes in the wilderness, I found Israel. Like the first fruit on the fig tree, in its first season, I saw your ancestors” (9:10). Did Jesus have that text in mind? Perhaps under the fig tree Nathanael had been struggling with God in prayer, and was changed, like Jacob, into a true Israelite. He was like the fig tree that brought forth good fruit. From this we can gather that despite his initial skepticism about Jesus, Nathanael had a pure heart open to the truth.


Reflection
John’s Gospel opens and closes with doubting apostles: Nathanael at the beginning, and Thomas at the end. Despite their initial resistance, they both believed in Jesus and became great apostles. Their example can give us courage to keep on being disciples even if we feel inadequate.

Prayer
Saint Bartholomew, pray for us that like you, we may have hearts that are true and good, free of any deceit, so that we may prove to be faithful disciples of Jesus despite any difficulties.


© 2017, Daughters of Saint Paul

Monday, August 21, 2017

Saint Pius X



Saint Pius X  (1835-1914)

Feast: August 21

Patron of first communicants, immigrants



Though he rose to become a bishop, cardinal, and  pope, Giuseppe Sarto always remained at heart a simple parish priest. Born into a poor family near Venice, he wrote in his last will and testament, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I die poor." As a priest his extensive pastoral work made him aware of the acute need for religious instruction. After becoming Pope in 1903,  he still taught a weekly catechism class to children. He wrote the Catechism of Saint Pius X and  worked to establish the CCD in every parish.
His motto  “To restore all things in Christ” guided his papacy. He encouraged liturgical reforms, lowered the age for First Communion, and encouraged frequent Communion. Under his leadership the Code of Canon Law was codified in one volume for the first time (it was promulgated by his successor, Benedict XV). Pius reacted strongly to the rise of Modernism, which he saw as a synthesis of all heresies, and condemned its theological errors. Though he is sometimes remembered mainly for his strong anti-Modernism, his legacy includes his emphasis on pastoral work, concern for the poor, and formation of the clergy. He died on the eve of World War I, grieving over the conflict about to explode in Europe.


Reflection

The great goal of St. Pius X was to restore all things in Christ. That is why the pope put such an emphasis on Holy Communion. Personal union with Jesus through this sacrament can light a fire in our hearts, leading us to give of ourselves to others. Ultimately, love builds up the Church. And as Pius liked to say, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”


Prayer
St. Pius X, intercede for us that the love of Christ may always inflame our hearts and spur us to share that love with others.



© 2017, Daughters of Saint Paul

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