“He was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.”

The first reading (Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3) for today’s Memorial of St. Barnabas features this companion of Paul and his work in Antioch.  The Church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch where he rejoiced in what God had done there and encouraged them further, bringing many more to the Lord (see above).  He goes to find Saul in Tarsus and, bringing him to Antioch, they both teach there for the next year.

The name Barnabas, according to Acts 4:36, means “son of encouragement,” a name given to this Joseph by the apostles.  This, combined with this passage which declares him “a good man,” should give us insight into why he was so effective an evangelist.  I’m reminded of the C.S.. Lewis compilation “The Joyful Christian.”  It is not hard to imagine a humble man, kind and generous, on fire for Christ, constantly upbeat and enthusiastic.  Is this not a formula for the disposition of the modern day evangelist?  Shouldn’t we want to be the “good man” or “good woman” who is always encouraging others to follow the Lord and affirming them when they do?  The kind of person who makes others better for just having spent time with us?

May we, like St. Barnabas, always strive to be who we are: “very good” (Gen 1:31) so that our light will shine before others (see Mt 5:16).

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