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St. Barnabas, Son of Encouragement and Model of Discipleship

June 11, 2014
St Barnabas cropped
On June 11th we celebrate the feast of St. Barnabas. The Church sees him as an apostle though he was not one of the twelve. We first hear about him in the Acts of the Apostles, where he is given the name Barnabas which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4).  And he lived up to his name. When Paul needed someone to support him after his conversion, it was St. Barnabas who supported Paul and had him received by the apostles.
St. Barnabas was also sent on a mission to investigate the new converts at Antioch. He persuaded St. Paul to go to Antioch and begin the missionary work with him; and there, in Antioch was where the followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11).
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to live our faith like St. Barnabas to:
1)    Be an encourager.  To encourage one another in the faith, avoid being judgmental or gossiping about people and to build bridges, not barriers.
2)    Study the faith.  St. Barnabas encouraged the early Christians to remain faithful to the Lord. We need to practice our faith by celebrating the sacraments worthily. The Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation are God’s gracious gifts to the Church. Celebrating them will help us get closer to the Lord, while reading Sacred Scripture and the Catechism will help us remain faithful to Him and His teachings.
3)    Witness to the gospel.  St. Barnabas encountered hardships but he continued to persevere in spreading the gospel. The secular world of today needs the good news of Christ. We need to witness with boldness and love; and at all times, avoid being harsh. For this, we must always pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance.
4)    Dialogue with others.  Without undermining or compromising our Catholic beliefs, we need to dialogue with people of opposing views.
St. Barnabas Church in Scarborough is a community of faith, encouragement and hope. It is blessed to have St. Barnabas as its patron and namesake. Through his intercession may we all come to experience the fullness of God’s all-embracing peace and fellowship in parish life.
This post comes to us from Fr. Edwin Gonsalves, former Pastor of St. Barnabas Parish, Scarborough and presently Rector of St. Augustine's Seminary. We thank Fr. Gonsalves for his insights into the life and legacy of this great saint.
(Photo courtesy biblicalarchaeology.org)