St Bartholomew Pentecost 11
Wounded hero: St Bartholomew and the virtue of vulnerability
Bartholomew was One of the twelve apostles mentioned sixth in the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts. Bartholomew is not mentioned in John’s Gospel although Nathaniel is. Many people therefore identify Nathaniel with Bartholomew.
Bartholomew is not mentioned in church literature before 260CE Pentanes, Head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria preached in India. Pantaenus was told that Bartholomew had ministered in India and had gifted his converts with the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew.
It is not exactly known how Bartholomew died. Some sources say that he was beheaded. Other sources indicate that Bartholomew was skinned alive. In art, Bartholomew is often depicted holding his flayed skin; an image that evokes deep vulnerability. Vulnerability is not often considered a virtue, yet vulnerability is the core of being human. How do we come to terms with our vulnerability? As a wounded hero, Bartholomew is an icon for us in exploring the virtues of vulnerability for individuals, community and society. Where are the safe places that you can remove your skin and be vulnerable with another? When and where is vulnerability inherent for you? In what ways can your vulnerability be a virtue?
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.