Son of Encouragement

13 May

A significant figure in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is St. Barnabas.

This saint is of particular significance to my family, as we named a child whom we miscarried 15 years ago Barnabas, and every year on his feast day (June 11) we especially remember the gift of this precious child, even though we never got to hold him in this life.

It’s intriguing that St. Barnabas, the companion of St. Paul, is honored by the Church as an “apostle,” even though he was not one of the Twelve (nor an official “substitute” like Matthias, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow). Surely as a first-generation Christian leader who was sent on missionary journeys to Cyprus, Perga, Iconium, and Lystria, and possibly even to Rome and Alexandria, among other places, his title is well-deserved (cf. Acts 14:14).

In Acts 4:36 we learn that he was given his name by the apostles, and that it means “son of encouragement.” Later, in the portion of Acts chosen for today’s Mass, we read that when St. Barnabas arrived in Antioch and found the faith alive among the people, he rejoiced and then, true to his name, he “encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:23-24).

We who are catechists, who strive to be good men and women, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith, do well to imitate St. Barnabas as we encourage our students and families to “remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart.”

We then hear that St. Barnabas went and tracked down Saul (St. Paul) and the two of them “for a whole year” devoted themselves to teaching “a large number of people”–presumably those who had already been “added to the Lord.” In other words, they devoted themselves to the noble work of catechesis. And their work bore great fruit: In Antioch the disciples were called “Christians” for the first time!

St. Barnabas, pray for us!

One Response to “Son of Encouragement”

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  1. Jun 11 – Saint Barnabas | Holy Women, Holy Men - June 11, 2014

    […] Son of Encouragement […]

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