Memorial of Saint Barnabas, apostle
(Acts 11:21b-26.13:1-3; Matthew 5:20-26)
Perhaps the apostles had not known much about Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. If they had, they may not have wanted to change the disciple Joseph’s name to Barnabas. Like Jesus’ foster-father, Barnabas appears to have been an extraordinarily righteous man.
Barnabas is the disciple who presented the money obtained from the sale of his property to the disciples for the use of the entire community of Israel. He also, as today’s first reading shows, leaves Jerusalem to encourage the believers in Antioch. Then he not only goes out of his way to fetch the former church persecutor Paul from Tarsus but proceeds to accompany the gifted apostle on the first missionary journey.
The apostles gave Joseph the name Barnabas because it means “son of encouragement” which is to say that he supported others in the faith. It is a virtue in much need of emulation today. We need to encourage others to trust the Lord in their trials and to give thanks to him in their success.