Today we honor the Apostle Bartholomew.
The Gospel mentions Nathaniel;
we think they’re the same person.
Tradition says he preached what is Turkey today,
in Ethiopia, India, modern-day Iran,
around the Black Sea, and Armenia.
While Ethiopia is off in the other direction, in Africa,
all those other places would make a good circuit;
And we know someone took the Gospel there;
So that’s very credible.
He is believed to have been martyred;
the most prominent story is that he was “flayed alive.”
So: if you go to the Sistine Chapel, in Rome,
You can see Michaelangelo’s portrait,
Showing St. Bartholomew holding his own skin!
I’ve said it before,
but we have a sense of humor about these things:
Guess what he’s a patron-saint of?
Armenia: makes sense; also butchers!...
Tanners—that is, people who skin animals!
Leather-workers and shoemakers!
We don’t have anything else he left us,
other than what all the Apostles gave us:
the Good News of who Jesus is, and what he did!
This bears frequent repeating:
Nearly everything we know about Jesus,
We rely entirely on the Apostles and their generation!
They truly are the foundation of the City
as the reading from Revelation shows us.
It is very fashionable nowadays
to discredit their testimony.
You have this popular novel
all about the artwork of Leonardo DaVinci,
and this claim of a massive conspiracy,
by the Church, to cover up the truth about Jesus:
that he wasn’t really God, and actually,
he got married and had children, etc.
Now, first—that’s an absurd claim.
Conspiracy-theories always are.
Second: attacking the credibility of what the Apostles—at the cost of their lives!—handed down to us, is not new!
It’s happened throughout history.
But when we call into question the Apostles’ work—
Then what do we have left? Nothing!
So: if Jesus isn’t real, they made it all up!
They made up a story of a crucified Messiah,
Who died…and then rose from the dead.
And they died for that belief.
There’s a slang term from the ‘50s:
“If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’!”
Is that what the Apostles did?
They died for a lie?
Put it another way:
If they’re lyin’, we’re dyin’.
Because there is no Jesus Christ.