Grace to you!
Many of us are familiar with the conversion story of Dr. Scott Hahn, whose testimony about his journey to the Catholic faith after being a militant anti-Catholic Presbyterian pastor became one of the most celebrated in the late eighties through the nineties. From his testimony, lavishly shared in the best seller, Rome Sweet Home, coauthored with his wife, Kimberly, we learn how his first visit to a Catholic Mass, not knowing what to expect, led him to appreciate the great mystery of Jesus in the Eucharistic celebration.
Years earlier, he had believed so many things wrong about the Catholic Church—her Mass, prayers, sacraments and ways of worship. But, when he finally decided to come and see, he realized how wrong his perceptions were and how negative prejudice could hinder one from finding the truth.
Dr. Hahn dared to be vulnerable, to come and see. Some sort of vulnerability; allowing the invitation to see Christ is needed to grow and mature in the spiritual life. He came and he saw what his soul was longing for.
Come and See has become a common phrase for those discerning vocation to the religious or priestly life. The plan is that they come and see the way of life of Holy Orders and religious life, and by so doing be equipped to discern if such a life is what they desire.
Come and See is a popular New Testament phrase given to us by Philip in response to the question of Nathaniel (Bartholomew) as the following dialogue shows: “Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see” (Jn 1:45-47).
Nathaniel, also known as Bartholomew, whose feast day the Church celebrates today, accepts that invitation with a gracious and open heart. Though he had concerns—“Can anything good come out of Nazareth,” he dared to be vulnerable in the search for the truth, the Messiah. He came and found things for himself. Not only did Jesus tell him personal things about him, the encounter was transforming; so much so, he was the first among the apostles to confess that Jesus is “the Son of God, the King of Israel.”
How many conversions or spiritual rebirth take place if people are ready to give God a chance. Oh how our joy and peace will flourish if we did.
Participation in the life of Christ weaves a new identity for the participant. This identity is one called the saint, the saved, the sanctified of the Lord; the one who witnesses the joy of God-life in the soul.
We celebrate the life of Bartholomew the Apostle, one of the first fruits of the redeemed of Christ. We also pray that the saving grace that led Saint Bartholomew to come and see, may constantly abide with us. May others who are hesitant to come and see, those who are afraid to be vulnerable before divine invitation, be drawn through the life-witness of other believers. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Feast of Saint Bartholomew (Nathaniel), August 24]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.