Monday, June 11, 2012

St. Barnabas

St. Barnabas appears throughout the Acts of the Apostles and, along with St. Paul, was a great missionary of the early Church. As we pray that Europeans may rediscover their Christian identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of the Gospel, let us reflect on one of Blessed John Henry Newman’s sermons.

St. Barnabas furnishes us with a lesson in his own way…. The text says, that "he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith" (Acts 11:24). This praise of goodness is explained by his very name, Barnabas, "the Son of Consolation" (Acts 4:36), which was given him, as it appears, to mark his character of kindness, gentleness, considerateness, warmth of heart, compassion, and munificence. His acts answer to this account of him. The first we hear of him is his selling some land which was his, and giving the proceeds to the Apostles, to distribute to his poorer brethren (Acts 4:37).

The next notice of him sets before us a second deed of kindness…. "When Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the Apostles, and declared how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus, in the name of Jesus" (Acts 9:26-27).

…How had he shown that "he was a good man?" by going on a mission of love to the first converts at Antioch. Barnabas, above the rest, was honored by the Church with this work, which had in view the encouraging and binding together in unity and strength this incipient fruit of God's grace. "When he came, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad" (surely this circumstance itself is mentioned by way of showing his character); "and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord" (Acts: 11:23). Thus he may even be accounted the founder of the Church of Antioch, being aided by St. Paul, whom he was successful in bringing thither. …

Thus the Scripture history of him does but answer to his name, and is scarcely more than a continued exemplification of his characteristic grace. Moreover, let the particular force of his name be observed. The Holy Ghost is called our Paraclete, as assisting, advocating, encouraging, comforting us; now, as if to put the highest honor upon the Apostle, the same term is applied to him. He is called "the Son of Consolation," or the Paraclete….

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