Today the Western churches commemorate the apostle Bartholomew.
A native of Cana in Galilee, he is called Nathanael, or "God's gift," in the fourth Gospel, and is greeted by Jesus as "an Israelite without duplicity."
A man dedicated to the study of Torah (as the episode in which Jesus sees him under the fig tree suggests, according to rabbinic tradition), Nathanael searches Scripture for signs of the coming of the Messiah. Prepared to recognize Jesus as the awaited Messiah, Nathanael is nonetheless hesitant to welcome a figure who surpasses all that he knows and expects, and does not hide his perplexity when Phillip tells him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets: Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth" (Jn 1.45).
Yet in their mysterious meeting as described by John, Nathanael proclaims Jesus not only king of Israel - in other words, Messiah - but also Son of God, recognizing the man who has revealed himself to his eyes as one who shares a singular bond of intimacy with the God of Israel.
Some traditions say that after Pentecost, Bartholomew went to evangelize India and Armenia and was flayed alive, thus becoming a martyr.
In the West, it cannot be forgotten that his feast day is associated with one of the darkest moments of Christian history, the Night of St. Bartholomew. On this night in 1572, thirty thousand French Protestants were killed, in Paris and throughout France, with the undeniable complicity of many leaders of the Catholic Church.
The Orthodox churches commemorate Bartholomew together with Barnabas, on the eleventh of June.
God of truth,
you called Bartholomew-Nathanael,
an Israelite without deceit,
to follow Jesus,
and he readily confessed his faith
in your Son as King of Israel:
grant us his joyous simplicity
so that we may walk in the light
of the new sun, Christ the Lord,
who lives forever and ever.
Rev 21:9-14; Jn 1:45-51
Cosma Etolo (1714-1779) monk and martyr
Today the Greek Church commemorates Cosma Etolo, a monk of Mt. Athos, itinerant preacher and martyr.
Baptized Constantine Aniphantis, Cosma was born in 1714 in Taxiarchis, Etolia. He discovered the monasticism of Mt. Athos while studying at the Athoniada, the monastic academy that had been founded near the Holy Mountain not long before.
Upon finishing his studies, Constantine received monastic tonsure at the monastery of Philotheou, and took the name Cosma. He left Mt. Athos several times on long preaching missions to different parts of Greece, and the patriarchs of Constantinople who reigned during his lifetime supported him in this ministry, an unusual one for a monk of Athos.
Wherever he went, Cosma planted a large wooden cross, waited for people to gather, and began to announce the Gospel. Wishing to build on the foundations he had laid with his preaching, he promoted the creation of elementary and secondary schools in order to raise the educational level of the population. His work was an important means of peaceful resistance to the Islamic advance, because it gave many Greeks a stronger sense of their cultural and spiritual identity.
In his sermons, which are preserved in the form of brief written summaries that Cosma himself prepared to distribute to his listeners, he dwells on the immensity of divine love, and invites his listeners to open their eyes to this love and set out on a penitential journey that will lead them to share God's love with others.
After twenty years of missionary work, during which he travelled as far as Albania, Cosma was accused of encouraging a Greek insurrection against the Ottoman Empire. In 1779 he was hanged by Turkish authorities in the woods of Berati, Albania.
THE CHURCHES REMEMBER...
Bartholomew, apostle (Roman and Ambrosian calendars)
COPTS AND ETHIOPIANS (18 misra/nahasse):
Alexandre (d. 337), patriarch of Constantinople (Coptic Church)
Eutyches (1st cent.), martyr
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS AND GREEK CATHOLICS:
Eutyches, disciple of John the Theologian, martyr
Cosma Etolo, hieromartyr (Greek Church)
John Svjatogorskij (d. 1867), monk (Ukrainian Church)
EAST SYRIAN ORTHODOX:
Bartholomew, apostle (Malabar Church)