The “Acts of the Apostles” notes about Barnabas that “he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). He is counted among the prophets and teachers in the Church of Antioch (Acts 13:1). It was the Holy Spirit who wanted to set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which He had called them (Acts 13:2-3). Thought he was not among the “Twelve” he has been always honored in the Church as an Apostle. He was one of those who zealously obeyed the Lord’s command, “And preach as you go, saying: The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). The feast of Saint Barnabas has been celebrated on 11 June, both in the East and in the West. from the 11th century onwards. It was on 11 June this body was discovered.
Barnabas was one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus, and so a member of the first Christian community of Jerusalem. He is the first mentioned in the “Acts of the Apostles” where he is called Joseph, and his surname is Barnabas, meaning, “son of consolation”, that is, one who is good in comforting the brethren. He was a Levite and a native of Cyprus. He sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the feet of the Apostles (Acts 4:36-37). This very first mention of Barnabas in the Acts 4:36 singles out as a supreme example of renunciation and charity which are characteristic of zealous Christians.
Barnabas later preached the Gospel in Antioch, an important city in the Roman Empire. He also shared with Paul the hardships of a long journey of nearly 2,000 km to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. Barnabas plays a prominent role in the early chapters of the “Acts of the Apostles” as the one who introduces Saint Paul to the Apostles and to the Church (Acts 9:27). Thus, through his services, the neo-convert Paul was welcomed into the apostolic community. With the help of Paul he spent more than one year teaching the new-born community of Antioch. It was there that the followers of Christ were for the first time called Christians (Acts 11:26). Antioch became the heart of Gentile Christianity and the center of evangelization of the East and the West.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You filled Saint Barnabas with faith and the Holy Spirit, and set him apart for the conversion of the nations. Grant that the Gospel of Christ which he preached so strenuously, may, in our day, be faithfully proclaimed by word and deed. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 11 June 2018
A Christian Piilgrim