BARNABAS, whose day it was yesterday, was a Levite from Cyprus, and thus a Jew with a Greek background. His original name was Joseph, but he was given the Christian name Barnabas by the Apostles, its meaning being explained as "son of consolation/exhortation", someone readily "called alongside to help", which is the basic meaning of the Greek word. Barnabas is singled out among those who sold property and gave the proceeds to the Church for the support of its poorer members. It is not surprising to find him taking a leading role in the later famine relief operation for impoverished Jewish Christians in Judaea. Nor is it surprising that he was sent to Antioch to help in the growing mission work there among Greek-speaking Jews.
Perhaps the generosity of his character is illustrated most clearly in his relationships with Paul and Mark. When Paul first went back to Jerusalem after his conversion, and tried to join the Christian community there, it is hardly surprising that they were wary of their former persecutor, and unconvinced that he had now become a Christian disciple. It was Barnabas who stood by him and sponsored him, recounting how he had been converted and had spoken out boldly in Jesus’ name in Antioch.
On their first missionary journey the pair were accompanied by Mark, but he abandoned the tour after their visit to Cyprus and went back to Jerusalem. When they set out on their second missionary tour Barnabas was determined that his nephew Mark should be given a second chance, and when St. Paul refused they split up and went on different itineraries. There is a happy footnote to this incident, for in one of Paul’s later letters he commends Mark to his readers. Twice then we see how Barnabas stood by a fellow Christian when others had their doubts, and who can say whether the services of Paul and Mark might not have been lost to the Church had he not done so?
Barnabas may seem to belong to the background of the early Christian mission. But it is clear that he played a vital role. He recognized the open doors of opportunity. He gave loyal support to his fellow Christians. He was generous in his judgements and with his property. He had faith in people as well as in God. We need more people like him!
Lord, I do not pray for tasks equal to my strength;
I ask for strength equal to my tasks. Phillips Brooks.
“The Best Way of All” - Edmund Banyard
When I push myself forward and strive for ascendancy over others, forgive my self-assertion.
Love is never selfish, or quick to take offence’.
Lord, forgive me when I am intolerant,
touchy, too bound up in myself,
for with all the cause I have given you to be offended
you have never turned from me.
‘love keeps no score of wrongs,
does not gloat over other people’s sins,
but delights in the truth’.
Save me from tabulating the failings of others,
but save me also from being indifferent to evil;
teach me to delight in the truth.
There is nothing love cannot face,
there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance.
Love will never come to an end’.
Lord, let your love so flow in me and through me,
let it so possess me,
that I may travel at least a few steps further
in the best way of all.
COLLECT Bountiful God, giver of all gifts, who poured your Spirit upon your servant Barnabas and gave him grace to encourage others: help us, by his example, to be generous in our judgements and unselfish in our service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For all the possibilities we see ahead,
help us to see them through your eyes,
not the limitations of our own sight.
Give us wisdom and discernment
in the face of so much chaos, despair, and fear.
John Charles Vockler
Give me a pure heart, that I may see you;
A humble heart, that I may hear you;
A heart of love, that I may serve you;
A heart of faith, that I may abide in you…
To love life and people as God loves them,
for the sake of infinite possibilities.