Saint Bartholomew, Apostle


Through this passage it is shown that the angels not only induce the worst plagues but also act as physicians, at one time cutting and at another time applying healing medications. For he who once brought on a plague to those who deserved it, now shows to the saint the beatitude of the church. And fittingly does he call the bride the “wife” of the Lamb. For when Christ was slaughtered as a lamb, he at that time betrothed [the church] with his own blood. For just as when Adam was sleeping, the woman was formed through the taking of the rib, so also the church, formed through the shedding of blood from the side of Christ as he was sleeping voluntarily on the cross through death, was united with him who suffered for us. read more

Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

It is so easy to create two categories of people: good and bad.  The book of Revelation does it in today’s reading, the entire Old Testament is devoted to helping us understand through guilt, shame, and punishment that sin makes us bad.  We can examine our lives in front of the Ten Commandments, and probably, most of the time, be thankful we haven’t done anything gravely wrong.  Jesus steps into the picture and teaches us that a mere unguarded glance is the same thing – spiritually – as adultery.  He teaches us that the bitter feelings and resentment we agree with are the same thing – spiritually – as murder.  He teaches us that our desire to appear good to others is vanity and pride.  If you can console yourself while reading the book of Revelation by thinking, “Whew, I’m glad I’m one of the good guys” – how are you any different from the Pharisees?  If you truly think you can stand serenely before the judgment seat of God because you are “one of the good guys,” I still hope that God will have mercy on you. read more

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

If you’re ever curious why Christian art depicts people in heaven carrying around harps, today’s first reading provides the origin.  In his apocalyptic vision, St. John describes those who are victorious in the struggle as holding God’s harps.  Earlier he describes them as holding “palm branches,” and then someone tells him they are those “who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Art can help us see the symbols in context, but it doesn’t always help to explain them.  Sometimes, if we know what the symbols mean, art can help guide us into a fruitful meditation. read more