Saint Barnabas, son of Encouragement

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Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37)

Today, we celebrate the feast of a Saint whose life represents what Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage, “As you go, proclaim the good news; the kingdom of heaven has come here.” This is the message Barnabas carried, the message for which he worked strenuously and paid the ultimate sacrifice of his own life.

All we know of Barnabas is to be found in the New Testament. A Jew, born in Cyprus and named Joseph, he sold his property, gave the proceeds to the Apostles, who gave him the name Barnabas, and lived in common with the earliest converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” He was truly a man of encouragement.

It was Barnabas who persuaded the early Christian community to accept Paul as a disciple. Even though they knew Paul was converted, it was not easy for the church to accept a man who violently persecuted the church but this son of encouragement made them understand that the past is past and Paul can be used by God.

Barnabas worked with Paul in the city of Antioch and through them, humans were first called Christians. In a world of individualism where even ministers find it difficult to work together and each person seeks glory for himself even at the expense of the other, the life of Barnabas becomes encouragement in the right direction.

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.

The question that should be running through our minds today is, “As a Christian when was the last time I spoke to a person about Jesus Christ?” When last did I attempt to preach my faith and explain what I believe to others?

When Jesus spoke these words in today’s Gospel passage, he was addressing not only the twelve disciples but the entire crowd. Every one of us has a mission to preach, cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons.

Let us pray: Lord God, work in me and through me to proclaim your word to the world. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bible Study: Acts 11:21-26,13:1-3, Ps. 98:1-6, Matthew 5:33-37)

© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu

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