Having read the whole story we might readily scoff at Saint Bartholomew’s reluctance to believe. Yet how often do we likewise doubt? If we met Jesus on the street would we recognize Him? Yet, we do meet Him every day. Every day we come face to face with our Risen Lord and yet we fail to recognize Him. Daily the love Our Lord offers us is there for the asking; we have this love readily available to us in the experiences we share with our spouse, and with others we encounter daily. Yet, we live in a world that is skeptical of things like marriage and notions of living for something greater than ourselves. Daily people discard other human beings like they were yesterday’s news. We live in a world where it is seemingly all about experiencing self versus learning to move beyond our self. The world would have us believe that love is about self- pleasure versus pleasing others.
It has been just a little over a year ago now, my wife, Linda, was hospitalized. Having been there awhile she grew increasingly sadder over not being able to see the children. In sharing her feelings with someone there at the hospital over not being able to be there for our children because of her being hospitalized, she was silently horrified at the suggestion this person offered that “You need to think of yourself.” That response just about sums up the mindset of the culture in which we live, ‘You need to think of yourself.’
The skepticism Bartholomew experiences isn’t unique, we too experience it daily. The lies of a world which tells us that marriage, or other relationships, have no meaning but what we manage to glean for our own pleasure, makes it difficult for us to overcome our doubts. The lie the world tells us about the meaning of marriage, about the true meaning of love makes it difficult at times to be truly open to love when it presents itself. It is like accepting the sincerity of condolences from someone who we know would likely throw us under the bus at the first opportunity. The lack of genuineness in our culture makes it difficult to accept when it pokes us in the eye.
The doubt we read of in today’s Gospel is no stranger to any of us, it is an experience we all struggle with. We struggle daily in recognizing love and Christ’s presence in our lives. We struggle daily with coming to appreciate something greater than the lies the world presents and the pathologies these lies attempt to conceal. The Church assures us that if we allow ourselves to transcend our doubts about something greater than worldly pleasure there awaits something “infinitely greater than human possibilities and expectations.”
So many today are reluctant to believe that marriage can fulfill the promise of true love. They find it difficult to turn away from the lies of a world that suggest it is all about our self. Saint Bartholomew offers us some insight into what it truly means to love. His love for our Lord helped him see his way through a harrowing martyr’s death. “Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond the pain.” We must keep in mind the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live?” Love is here to be found; it is found in loving, we find love by being love. Where will we find love today? Make a great day!