A GOOD LEADER
His name means "son of encouragement."
Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus whom the Church honors today, comes as close as anyone outside the Twelve to being a full-fledged Apostle. He was closely associated with St. Paul (he introduced Paul to Peter and the other Apostles) and served as a kind of mediator between the former persecutor and the still suspicious Jewish Christians.
When a Christian community developed in Antioch, Barnabas was sent as the official representative of the Church of Jerusalem to incorporate them into the fold. He and Paul instructed in Antioch for a year, after which they took relief contributions to Jerusalem.
Later, Paul and Barnabas, now clearly seen as charismatic leaders, were sent by Antioch officials to preach to the Gentiles. Enormous success crowned their efforts. People started to worship them but the two said, "We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you Good News that you should turn from these idols to the living God" (Acts 14: 15).
But all was not peaceful. They were expelled from the town and had to go to Jerusalem to clear up the ever-recurring controversy about circumcision. In addition, even the best of friends can have differences - when Paul wanted to revisit the places they had already evangelized, Barnabas wanted to take along John and Mark, his cousin and author of the Gospel, but Paul insisted that since Mark had deserted them once, he was not fit to take along now. The disagreement that followed was so sharp that Barnabas and Paul separated; Barnabas taking Mark to Cyprus and Paul taking Silas to Syria. Later, Paul, Barnabas, and Mark reconciled.
One of the most important characteristics of Barnabas' life is that he supported people in need. Today's first reading tells us that the Church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch. We hear that he was "a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith" (Acts 11: 24). He rejoiced with the first Christians, encouraging them all to remain faithful. The support that Barnabas showed and the encouragement he offered to the Church and Its people are hallmarks of his ministry. In fact, his name means "son of encouragement."
As the Holy Spirit filled Barnabas with faith we, too, are filled with that same faith! We are all called to support one another as mutual members of the Body of Christ. In today's Gospel, Jesus calls us to live as messengers of Christ's peace as we proclaim, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Mt. 3: 2). As baptized Christians, the Holy Spirit empowers us to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons" (Mt. 10: 8).
There are so many people of our time who do good work. Love does take the lead over hatred and evil. Today, may we pray, in our remembering of a leader, for what Jesus told the disciples long ago, "Whatever house or city you enter, wish it peace" (cf. Lk. 10: 5 - 8).
In today's Responsorial Psalm we acclaim," The Lord revealed to the nations His saving power. All the ends of the earth have seen His salvation for His people" (Ps. 98: 3).
In our lives, we embody the message of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Spirit that empowered Barnabas now leads us to support and encourage one another in faith and love!