“So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they met with the church and taught a large company of people, and in Antioch, the disciples were for the first time called Christians.” (Acts 11:25-26).
Although he was not one of the twelve, Barnabas is regarded as an Apostle largely due to his immense contribution to the Faith. Barnabas was a Jew, born in Cyprus, a very wealthy man who in later life, converted to the Christian Faith and donated a large piece of land to the Apostles where the first Christians camped and lived a community life of sharing. (Cf. Acts 4:34-35). The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” He was truly a man of encouragement. It was Barnabas who went to Tarsus to look for Saul upon hearing of his miraculous conversion. Barnabas gladly received Paul as a brother instantly forgetting and forgiving his past as a persecutor, and went ahead to introduce him to the company of the other Apostles. Barnabas teaches us the importance of team spirit.
In our first reading, we saw how the Holy Spirit spoke in the Christian assembly saying: “Set apart for me Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them. Tradition records that Barnabas preached in Alexandria and Rome; that he founded the Cypriote Church and that he was stoned to death at Salamis about the year 61. Barnabas ended up suffering persecution for the faith. His life was crowned with that last beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:10-12).
As we celebrate St. Barnabas today, Jesus reminds us of our calling to “preach as we go.” Preaching is not just something we do, it is the very life we live. Our actions win more souls than our words. Hence Jesus adds: “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons…” To be successful at this, money should never be a priority for us. “You received without paying, give without pay, take no gold, no silver, no bag for your journey…”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, bless me with the courage of St. Barnabas. Amen. Bible Study: Acts 11:21-26, 13:1-3 Psalm 98 & Matthew 10:7-13).