To be with him
“And he appointed twelve…to be with him…” (NRSV, Mark 3:14)
Very little is known of St Bartholomew the Apostle, though there is reason to believe that he was the same person as Nathanael who was introduced to Jesus by Philip and who was one of the seven disciples to whom the risen Jesus appeared on the shore of the Lake of Galilee. The readings for his feast, therefore, are concerned with the Apostles in general.
At an early stage in his ministry Jesus had called the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John, to be his disciples or pupils, and accompanied by them he toured Galilee, preaching and healing as he went. By the time he returned to his headquarters at Capernaum he had become a famous public figure, and the focal point for crowds who flocked to him from every quarter.
It was at this juncture that he took a momentous step. He had by now gathered round him many more disciples and from them he appointed 12 men to be with him (Mark 3:14). In number they corresponded to the 12 tribes of the People of Israel, for his Twelve were to be the foundation of the new People of God, the Christian Church.
He called them Apostles or envoys because he had chosen them to be his own personal representatives, as he himself was the personal representative of his Heavenly Father (John 17:18 and 20:21; Matthew 10:40).