by Sarah Brock
Readings for the feast day of St. Barnabas:
AM: Psalm 15, 67; Ecclesiasticus 31:3-11; Acts 4:32-37
PM: Psalm 19, 146; Job 29:1-16; Acts 9:26-31
Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Barnabas seems to be that friend, or co-worker, that we all want to have. It’s clear why the apostles called him ‘Son of Encouragement’.
In Acts (9:26-28), we hear of how Barnabas stuck up for Paul following his conversion. When Paul, arriving in Jerusalem, attempted to join the disciples they were fearful. Perhaps, wondering if it was a trick or a mean joke of some sort. Regardless of what they may have thought of his motives, they did not believe he was a disciple. It was Barnabas who spoke up for Paul. Telling the other disciples the story of Paul’s conversion on the road and his subsequent preaching in Damascus. It was Barnabas who facilitated Paul’s welcome among the disciples.
I can’t help but wonder, if not for Barnabas, would Paul have become the faithful disciple and church planter that we know today?
After that, Barnabas and Paul journeyed together. Barnabas, once again, demonstrates his generous spirit when Paul and Mark have a falling out. Wanting to give Mark a second chance to participate in a missionary journey, parts ways with Paul. However, given Paul’s praise of Mark in later letters, the trust and support of Barnabas seem to be just what was needed.
Perhaps, you too have known this type of trust and support in your life- from a family member, friend, or a co-worker. Someone who spoke up for you at just the moment it was most needed to help you in your becoming. Someone who believed in you when it seemed like no one else did.
Perhaps, you have been a ‘Barnabas’ to someone you know. Whether or not that person is still a part of your life, you may have changed the trajectory of another’s life with words of encouragement or support.
What opportunities are currently present for you to be a ‘Barnabas’?
Sarah Brock is a postulant in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.
Image Credit: Mosaic of St. Barnabas and St. Paul, Wikimedia