Memorial of Saint Barnabas, apostle
(Acts 11:21b-26.13:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12)
St. Barnabas is mentioned a number of times in Acts and the letters of St. Paul. From all that is said, he is an exemplary Christian disciple. He donates the proceeds from the sale of his land to the community of disciples (Acts 4:36-37). He is sent to Antioch as a representative of the Church to investigate the new Christian community there. One may find in him the gifts of patience and mercy in an incident that occurred while preaching with Paul. Barnabas’ desire to allow John Mark to rejoin the preaching team after previously abandoning the effort contrasts with Paul’s demand that he stay behind (Acts 15:39).
Today’s reading from Acts even testifies to his virtue calling him “a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). The same Spirit asks that he and Paul be set aside for missionary work (Acts 13:2). It further indicates his ability by naming Barnabas the first of the prophets and teachers at Antioch.
We might strive to imitate Barnabas. We certainly can be generous with what we own. We can also be of faith and ready to forgive others. We should also be willing to speak up in favor of Jesus and the Church. Jesus’ teachings of self-sacrificial love may be ridiculed by some. The Church has no shortage of detractors for its stand in favor of the integrity of marriage between a man and a woman and also the dignity of life.