Homily (Reflection) for Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Ap. (11th June, 2016) on the Gospel and the memorial
Acts 11:21-26. 13:1-3;Ps 97:1-6. (R. v. 2);
Saint Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, introduced Paul to the apostles. He was sent as the official representative of the Church to the Christian community that developed in Antioch. Barnabas and Paul taught in Antioch for a year, after which they took relief contributions to Jerusalem. They were later sent to preach to the Gentiles. They brought the controversy about circumcision to Jerusalem for Church’s decision. Barnabas and Paul later separated on account of Mark who once deserted them.
Topic: A collective responsibility.
We see in today’s gospel the instruction of Jesus Christ to the twelve while sending them to preach the good news, cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leapers, and to cast out demons. They received without payment and must give without payment. Again, they were forbidden from taking gold, silver, copper, bag, two tunics, sandals, and staff “for labourers deserve their food.”
Jesus did not expose the twelve to lack but only prevented them from unnecessary distractions. Hence, He asked them in Luke’s gospel, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing” (Lk 22:35).
We see this clearer in other passages, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24; cf. Lk 16:13). And when dispute arose among the early Christians concerning the sharing of food, the apostles maintained a clear stand in line with Jesus’ teaching, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). Analogously, Saint Paul’s teaching on celibacy is very important,
The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord... (1Cor 7:32b-34).
Erroneously, God’s work is sometimes seen as nobody’s business. But it must be a collective responsibility for it to bear the desired fruits. Hence, irrespective of the fact that Mark had deserted Barnabas and Paul, Barnabas insisted on carrying him along. He had a share in the ministry, cf. Acts 1:15-22. Those chosen and sent like the twelve are to work without being distracted by other affairs. And must never sell their work because it is freely received, cf. Eph 1:6. On the other hand, the people among whom they work are to see to their welfare.
Bible Reading: 1Cor 7:25-35.
Thought for today: You are part of a team.
Let us pray: Lord, help us to always do our part in the work of spreading your gospel – Amen.
Saint Barnabas – Pray for us!
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