Daily Reflection
August 24th, 1999
Mary Haynes Kuhlman
Revelation 21:9-14
John 1:45-51

Today's readings are about signs and wonders.  The selection from the book of Revelation has magic numbers:  seven angels, bowls and plagues, twelve gates, angels, and tribes, and four sets of three gates each (thus, again, twelve).  It ends with, "And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

Wonder, magic -- and maybe something about the wonder of being one of the Twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus, like Bartholomew, whose feast we celebrate today.  For all his name is well known -- "Philip and Bartholomew" get mentioned in the Gospels, "Bartholomew and Matthew" are listed together in Acts -- we don't know much about him.   He may be (Scripture scholars reason) the Nathaniel, the "Israelite in whom there is no deceit," of the Gospel reading. The tradition about St Bartholomew says he preached the Good News in Armenia and was finally skinned alive and beheaded -- a gruesomely spectacular ending, but not inconsistent with the wonder of being one of the original Twelve who knew Jesus as Man and Savior so well.

With the Psalm selections we sing of more wonders -- the Lord's works and powers and everlasting kingdom, and especially that claim we make in faith:  "The Lord is near to all who call on him."  How wonderful it is to know the Lord is near, and to look for the signs and wonders of His Presence today.

In the Gospel passage, Nathaniel proclaims his discovery that the Lord is near indeed:  "Rabbi, you are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!"  And Nathaniel recognizes Jesus as God Incarnate because Jesus has recognized Nathaniel; "I saw you under the fig tree."  To Nathaniel, this is wondrous "seeing."  Yet Jesus promises that what Nathaniel has seen so far is little compared to the signs and wonders that he will see in the future, "the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending ..." -- It sounds like magic, but of course it's REAL "magic."  It's Revelation.

When we first used computers for "typing," we were delighted by the wonders of the first software that gave us WYSIWYG wordprocessing -- "What You See Is What You Get."  Sometimes a life of WYSIWYG seems good enough.   When I'm sitting outside my sister's house in Italy in the shade of a fig tree, overlooking her rose bushes and stone wall and red tile roofs, and beyond, the valley of sunlight, the blue of mountains -- then, WYSIWYG is wonderful. But before that vacation moment, my year has had anxieties, pains, griefs -- certainly not as much as the sufferings of so many others, but enough to keep me aware that WYSIWYG is NOT what I want!  What Jesus promises Nathaniel, what the Scriptures and the Church promise, is EMTAT -- "Even More Than All This."  Even More than we can know, or dream, or see in the signs and wonders around us today.

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