Memorial of Saint Barnabas, apostle
(Acts 11:21b-26.13:1-3; Matthew 5:20-26)
Barnabas may be readily identified for his companionship of Paul on the so-called first missionary journey. But we know him in the book of Acts as well for his remarkable display of generosity. Barnabas, originally called Joseph, is the man who gave all the proceeds of land he had sold to the community of disciples in Jerusalem. Such a magnanimous gesture demonstrates what Jesus teaches in today’s gospel.
Jesus instructs his disciples that they must be the “light of the world.” He intends that they do what some today call “random acts of kindness” so that the world will inquire their motivation and find out that it is the Holy Spirit who comes to them through Jesus Christ, the Lord.
In times when people are urged to think of themselves and to consume as if there were no tomorrow, it is challenging to think of our neighbor and act on her or his behalf. Yet Jesus requires this kind of generosity of his disciples. Gratefully, he equips us with the Spirit that not only moves us to deny ourselves but provides joy when we do so.