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Celebrating our
Compassionate God

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Saskia Scott, Lay Chaplain

St Bartholomew’s feast day was the 24 August. This year we celebrated at St George’s Cathedral on the following Sunday, 27 August. Matt Vapor attended to speak about his lived experience of homelessness in conversation with The Reverend Michelle Yuen and St Bart’s Neil Starkie.

It was a wonderful event to raise awareness about St Bart’s and the work we do together as the Anglican community to address homelessness in our city. St Bartholomew’s feast day is a fitting day to speak about these issues, and not just because this organisation is named after him!

St Bartholomew is identified by many biblical scholars as the same individual as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John. Nathaniel was told about Jesus by Philip, but was at first sceptical that ‘anything good could come out of Nazareth’. He changed his mind completely when Jesus told him ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree, before Philip called you.’ He was won over by a Christ who saw him and was with him – Immanuel, God With Us.

St Bartholomew

The revolution of Jesus is that God chooses to be with us in our suffering, human selves.

Henri Nouwen writes about this God of compassion:

The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle. . . God is a compassionate God. This means, first of all, that God is a God who has chosen to be God-with-us. . . As soon as we call God ‘God-with-us,’ we enter into a new relationship of intimacy with him. By calling God Emmanuel, we recognize God’s commitment to live in solidarity with us, to share our joys and pains, to defend and protect us, and to suffer all of life with us. The God-with-us is a close God, a God whom we call our refuge, our stronghold, our wisdom, and even, more intimately, our helper, our shepherd, our love (from

When we understand God’s compassion for us, it opens up the way for us to show compassion for one another.

On St Bart’s feast day, we celebrate that God sees us and knows us intimately, and that God’s unconditional compassion extends to all. At St Bart’s House we endeavour to extend to our residents the same compassion that God has shown to us. Looking at Jesus, we know that God is with those who society may overlook, that God is with them in their suffering and that God is working in their lives. What a privilege to be a part of God’s compassionate mission at
St Bart’s!

St Bart’s

St Bart’s is one of Perth’s leading community service organisations helping more than 500 people in Perth on any given night.

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