Nathanael Bartholomew from Cana in Galilee
an image of the Apostle for this month by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
Three times Bartholomew’s name appears in the Gospels: Mt 10, Mk 3, Lk 6, always in the context of all the disciples’ names and then every time connected with Philip. In the Gospel of John (Jn 1, Jn 21) he appears as Nathanael. One more time his name appears in the Acts of the Apostles ch 1. The name already indicates something of his character and mission: Hebrew, Nathan=to give and El=God, translated as ‘God has given’ or ‘Gift of God’. Bartholomew indicates that Nathanael is the son of Tholomew (Bar=son of).
St. John describes the individuality, the other evangelists describe the blood connection to family and ancestry: Nathanael Bar-Tholomew. It is possible to hear in this name the expression of a spiritual status.
When Philip leads Nathaniel to Jesus Christ, he exclaims: ‘He is truly of the rank of a true Israelite in whom there is no false nor untruth!’ A true Israelite: this is a spiritual stage of initiation, where the person can merge with the higher guiding spirit of the whole nation. This individuality has the ability to rise into an expanded state of waking consciousness where he becomes a spiritual guardian of the nation of which he is a part. He becomes an active participant in the life of the archangel. When a person goes through everything it means to reach this stage of inner development, then the archangel can ‘read’ in such a soul as in a book, to gain orientation about what a nation needs. It is necessary that souls with this ability exist on earth as mediators for the archangels, that they can know how to guide the respective nation in the right way. (See also a lecture by Rudolf Steiner: lecture 3.10. 1913.)
Nathanael asks: ‘From where do you know me?’ Jesus answers: ‘Before Philip called you, I saw you when you were under the fig tree.’ This image of the fig tree is like a code. Nathanael recognises that Jesus of Nazareth is able to live and master the sphere of renewing, nurturing life forces which normally work on us in our sleep. He acknowledges him as his master, as it was only through deep undisturbed processes of meditation that anyone could access this dynamic etheric sphere. Here was someone who was wide awake in earthly day consciousness and could be at home in that sphere at the same time. ‘Master, you are the Son of God, you are the (spiritual leader) King of Israel!’ Then Jesus opens up a new perspective of initiation into the world of spirit for them: ‘I say to you all: You will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending above the Son of Man!’
Again this evokes a well-known image for those present: Jacob’s Ladder, another more objective image of the etheric sphere of life which works in us during sleep where truly there is a healing weaving between the angelic hierarchies and the human being. Also the mystery name ‘a true Israelite’ refers to Jacob as the first spiritual leader of a budding defined nation. Jesus draws attention to this connection. A new evolving of this reality is now beginning.
Is it coincidence that the Gospel then continues with the ‘first sign’ with which Jesus steps out into a public arena: the marriage at Cana -where Nathanael is at home- and the transforming of pure water (life-giving forces) into wine (an ‘I-conscious’ effective life force)? To be a disciple and a follower of Christ is a path of initiation to eventually be fully awake on each ‘rung of the ladder’, participating in the flow of creative life ascending and descending between heaven and earth. ‘This, the very beginning of his signs, Jesus fulfilled at Cana in Galilee. The radiating light-power of his being was made manifest, and a deep trust in him was awakened in his disciples’ (Jn 2:11). Was this possible, because Nathanael Bartholomew was part of their circle? Could Christ reveal himself on earth because each of the twelve disciples offered a different possibility for him to manifest his being? “There is no such thing as a lonely religion. Religion connects us with human beings, with our environment, with the earth, then in a right way with God” (John Wesley).
The Twelve Apostles of the New Jerusalem – Nathanael Bartholomew
an image as presented in January in a talk on the Twelve Apostles of the New Jerusalem
by Rev. Michaël Merle
When Andrew hears John the Baptist speak to himself: “There goes the Lamb of God” and grasps the significance of these words he goes in search of someone with whom to share what he has realised. Andrew finds Peter, his brother and they follow Jesus. Jesus finds Phillip, who is also a seeker and from the same city as Andrew and Peter. Philip finds Nathanael who is also seeking.
The suffix in his name – El – means God or God Most High. Nathanael is interested in the Father God. Philip tells Nathanael that they have found the fulfilment of the Old Testament, of the Law and the Prophets. This places Jesus in a clear lineage for Philip. Philip expects that Jesus would be of the Royal House of Bethlehem. He is therefore confused when Philip tells him Jesus is from Nazareth. Philip’s response to Nathanael’s disbelief is to suggest that he comes to see for himself and make his own assessment.
Bartholomew means that he is the son – bar – of Tholomew his father. It may be that he adopted the name Nathanael to signify his seeking of El, the full divinity of God.
When Jesus sees Nathanael approach, he describes him as a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit, or, more accurately, no crafty deceit. Crafty deceit was the condition of Adam and Eve. Jesus thereby signifies that Nathanael has developed to full consciousness; that he has reached a level of wisdom and that wisdom resides in him; Truth resides in him.
Jesus says to Nathanael that he perceived him under the fig tree. This places Nathanael on a particular spiritual path related to the town of Bethphage. Philip is also of this same spiritual stream. It is at Bethphage that Jesus curses the fig tree during Holy Week because this particular spiritual stream has come to its end.
There is now a community of Andrew, Philip and Nathanael, all three with a strong spiritual perception. They are meditants and thereby immediately recognise the Christ.
Nathanael is connected with Libra, the scales of Hermes to balance Law and Truth. The soul quality is contentment which must be transmuted to the spiritual quality of self control, harmony or composure. The stone connected with Libra is sard or carnelian.
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by Rev. Michaël Merle
It is good for us to consider that the Apostles may very well have come to know that the role of betrayer was, in fact, a very great and necessary role and that none of them knew who would be capable or willing to take on this difficult role. When the disciples sitting at the Last Supper become aware that Judas Iscariot is the one who will betray Jesus, they do not pounce on him and bind him. They are acutely aware of the significant and difficult role he is to perform. It may be that there questioning: “Is it me, Lord?” and “Not I, Lord, surely?” is a reflection of the process of discovering if they are worthy, so to say, to undertake such a very arduous task that will inevitably involve the sacrifice of their development.
At the Temptation of Jesus after the Baptism there is unfinished business, the changing of the stones to bread. The Spirit sends Jesus into the desert to face the masters of the earth who create separation. At the Last Supper before Jesus consecrates the bread, he dips a piece in the broth and gives it to Judas saying: “Do what you need to do”. At that moment the devil enters into Judas and Judas becomes the servant of Ahriman whom Jesus did not directly answer during the Temptation. When Judas goes out from the meal at this point, before the first eucharist is celebrated, the scriptures describe the night-time as follows: “And it was dark”. Judas experiences spiritual darkness. In leaving the twelve at the Last Supper Judas is alone. This aloneness and spiritual darkness is the experience of current humanity of whom Judas was the forerunner. Judas could not have fulfilled his task without the community of the twelve. It is through this that Ahriman has entered all of humanity in a deeper way and why all but one of the disciples are not at the foot of the cross.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas kissed Jesus for the love he bears him. This may strike us as being the very opposite of what we have thought and reflected upon previously. Judas does betray the Son of Man for the love that he does bear and the mission he feels compelled to undertake.
It is possible to contrast the mission of Judas with that of Lazarus. The chief priests wished to kill someone who had become a true follower of the Christ. They set their sights on Lazarus. John 12, which depicts the anointing of Jesus and records the intention to kill Lazarus, provides us with a ritual akin to that which we undertake at an altar. Lazarus (who becomes John – the one at the cross) has been called forth from the grave of his “temple sleep” (initiated) and so is able to resist the influence of Ahriman on the disciples. Lazarus, as a fully initiated follower, is identified by the chief priests as someone to kill, while Judas, who does not go through an initiation, is identified as deserving of a reward.
Judas intends to take on the mission of the betrayal. Judas was the treasurer among the twelve, and this placed him in a connection to Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector and would have been, perhaps, a more natural choice to be treasurer. Judas undertakes the task (appropriating it for himself) and also appropriates from the purse what is not his to take. This is the dilemma for Judas. He took on the mission within the twelve that we could rightly say belongs to him who replaces him, the disciple Matthias (whose name is so similar to Matthew). The position Judas held we could say was that of Matthias and was not his own alone.
Matthias had followed Jesus from the Baptism to the Ascension and was committed even though Jesus did not give him a mission during the three years of the incarnated Christ. Matthias is connected to Simon the Zealot and to Judas Thaddaeus (Jude). There is a brotherhood between these three men that may stem from their following Jesus from the Baptism to the Wedding Feast at Cana. They understood the event at the Wedding Feast of the forces of the sun that turns the water in the vine to wine. They recognised the forces of the Sun in the man Jesus and thereby the Being of the Son become flesh.
The thirty pieces of silver that were paid to Judas for the betrayal reflect the thirty years of Jesus before the Baptism. He received nothing for the three years of Christ in Jesus. The thirty pieces of silver are not kept in a purse as would be the case for payment of a job. Rather they are either scattered or used to purchase a field.
The act of betrayal required Judas to relinquish his will; he must become self-sacrificing and, ultimately, he cannot live with the sacrifice. It was as act of bravery that was greater than he could carry. He must make himself pure by sacrificing his will. When Judas kills himself there is still a mission to be accomplished. Matthias can take on the purity of Judas’ self-sacrifice and thereby fulfil the mission that he shares with Judas. Therefore, Matthias is the disciple elected to fill the place of Judas.
In killing Jesus, the life of Lazarus-John is spared so that John can become a witness to the Christ. Lazarus dies twice, once in the tomb to be called forth to a new consciousness by Jesus and a second time on the Isle of Patmos when he enters the Spirit in full consciousness. This dual death earns him the peace of a quiet final end to his life.
The stone connected with Judas is the Virgo stone which has no iron in it – no will in it. It is chrysolite. It is the iron-free form of forsterite containing magnesium and silicate. Chrysolite comes from the Greek “chrysolithos” or golden stone.
Chrysolite is connected to the human ability to perceive. Our sight is a free sense that serves us. This sight came about through a sacrifice of the Christ before the current Earth cycle of time. Without this sacrifice our eye would appropriate the light of sight.
The soul quality connected with chrysolite is courtesy. This soul quality must be transformed to the spiritual quality of a virginal heart or heart’s tact. Judas had to consider the needs of the whole and sacrifice his own mission.
The attributed Coat of Arm of Judas Iscariot with thirty pieces of solver and rope with which he hanged himself.
On Youth Day, 16 June, Rev. Michaël Merle showed a movie called “Mindwalk”. The details of the movie have appeared in previous newsletters advertising the event. After a short introductory talk in which Michaël explained the various conversations that would be taking place between the three characters in the movie, a group of almost twenty people watched the movie. Our conversation afterwards was very lively, as the characters, and what they represented, made a significant impact on everyone. Michaël then explained how we could view the characters as one operating from his will, the other from his feeling and the third from her thinking. We split into groups of three to experience what it might be like to converse from one’s will, one’s feeling and one’s thinking. The topic was to continue a conversation about the movie and how we had experienced it. We came to understand that it is takes a certain discipline to place oneself in only one realm of experience and to maintain it. Each one of us probably has a default sphere from which we approach the world, but to become conscious of it is quite a challenge. The movie was beautifully filmed on the island of Mont Saint Michel on the Normandy coast.
The island of Mont Saint Michel as one approaches.
Images taken on the island.
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