Homily for the Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle
This morning we celebrate the Memorial of St. Barnabas, one of the apostles to the Gentiles. We know from many of the epistles of St. Paul and from the Acts of the Apostles that Barnabas was one of Paul’s companions who traveled throughout the ancient world proclaiming the Good News and telling others about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Because of his preaching and his testimony, he was able to bring so many individuals to belief in Jesus.
The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” which is definitely something that we see in our first reading this morning. We’re told that he encouraged the Christians in Antioch to persevere in the faith and to remain rooted in their relationships with Jesus. His life and mission remind all of us that the preaching of the Gospel is a work of mercy and consolation. Bringing others to an encounter with Jesus is a work of encouragement, making those who hear the Good News more aware of how close God is to us as His beloved sons and daughters and how He works to bring each of us to an experience of freedom from sin and death.
As Catholics, we should always look to the lives of the saints for examples of how we are called to live our own lives – and Barnabas is definitely a good example for us to follow. He took this mission of evangelization seriously. He made it his life’s work. He had been so moved by his own encounter with the Risen Lord that he couldn’t keep that experience to himself, he had to share it. The same goes for us.
As baptized believers, we have been filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we have received our primary mission of going out into the world and living out Christian discipleship. Evangelizing the culture, bringing others to an encounter with Jesus, is one of the primary aspects of that discipleship. Every single one of us is called to proclaim the message of the Gospel, to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ. The world so desperately needs to hear that message today. We all need to be reminded of what God has done for us, what Jesus gave us by His sacrifice on the cross.
Today, may the example of Barnabas encourage us in that mission. May we take it seriously and go out and share with someone – just one person – how much the Lord has done for us and how much He loves us. If each one of us sought to bring one person to an encounter with Jesus, imagine how different our world would be. Let’s make that our priority today.
Photo: St. Barnabas, Wolfgang Sauber, own work, CC BY-SA 3.0