Friday: 24 August, 2012 –– 20th Week in Ordinary Time
Feast Day of St Bartholomew
Revelation 21:9-14 / John 1:45-51
Recognition & Fame
On this Feast Day of St. Bartholomew I become aware of how little we know about this apostle. He did not leave any writings. Like several other of the apostles, he did not have the prominence of Peter, James and John. Did Bartholomew struggle with relative anonymity? Did he ever resent not being in the inner circle? Perhaps he did not; John records Jesus saying he was a man in whom there was no duplicity. Bartholomew was whole-hearted, and Tradition says he gave his life in faithfulness to his Lord.
Yet, I cannot escape the implications of relative anonymity. Recognition and fame are awkward things in the Church. The Litany of Humility asks Jesus to “free me” from the desire of being.... esteemed, loved, acclaimed, honored, praised, preferred, consulted, approved, and valued. It continues that request from the fear of being.... humbled, despised, dismissed, rejected, defamed, forgotten, ridiculed, wronged, and suspected. When I pray that, I am always so conscious of how good it feels to be praised and how horrible it feels to be ignored.
We generally recognize it is a good thing to notice competency and faithfulness in others and to express overt appreciation. When we receive such, it can sometimes make our day. A word of encouragement can give us the strength to go on when we are feeling like giving up.
I often think of how few people in the Church get recognition. For all the millions throughout history who belong to Jesus, the list of names we recognize –– even though it would be in the thousands if an exhaustive tally were possible –– is just a few drops of water in the ocean. I have absolutely no expectation that the Church will remember “Deacon Hall” by name a few decades from now (I’m hardly recognized now apart from a small circle of acquaintances and an even smaller geographic area).
St Bartholomew reminds me today that having top recognition is not the important thing. It is faithfulness that is important. Whether anyone else ever sees or gives the slightest recognition, we first live unto our Lord, and he sees and knows all things.
Trust and obey.... and leave everything else up to the Lord. If we get some recognition along the way –– fine. If not, that is not why we give ourselves to Jesus.