Memorial of St. Barnabas, apostle
(Acts 11:21b-26.13:1-3; Matthew 5:20-26)
St. Barnabas may not be on any list of patron saints for religion teachers, but he consummately fills the role. We might call him the prototypical catechist given that, besides Jesus, he seems to be the first teacher mentioned in the New Testament.
In the Acts of the Apostles Barnabas teaches by example as well as by words. In fact, his giving the total proceeds of the sale of his property to the community of disciples in Jerusalem has eloquently taught Christians throughout the centuries generosity and commitment. Today’s reading from Acts testifies how the Holy Spirit somehow makes Its favor of Barnabas as teacher known to the church at Antioch.
In the history of the Church ministries have come and apparently gone. St. Paul mentions various ones in his First Letter to the Corinthians: apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of mighty deeds, healers, helpers, administrators, and speakers in tongues. The ministry of apostle remains alive in the bishops. True prophets are rare but, hopefully, still functioning. Teachers are an absolute necessity if the faith is to be consistently passed on and vitally lived out.