“[H]old that you have found peace, when you are exercised by various tribulations and tried in many adversities” (IC 3,12,2) | “[Barnabas] rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart” (Acts 11:23)

|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XII: ”Of Learning to Acquire Patience and to Fight Against Concupiscence” (third entry)

Why be at peace in difficulties? Kempis’s Christ goes on to say.that one should “try willingly to bear present evils for God’s love.” If God permits it, that should be good enough for us. How will our faith be strengthened if not exercised by trials? Better than we bear with these well in this life than handle them poorly and pay for our complaints in the next.

|Today’s first reading: Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3

Barnabas was a powerful evangelist who brought many persons to Christian faith. Here he encourages the flock in Antioch. We are told “he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.” He then goes to Tarsus to bring Paul back and they stay on a year teaching the people of Antioch where the adherents to this new sect were first called Christians. It goes on to say that the Holy Spirit later set aside Paul and Barnabas for special work.

|Reflection

Barnabas knew that these new Christians were going to face tribulations and adversities, sooner rather than later, due to their newfound faith, thus he encourages them to stay resolute in the Lord. They will need to come to terms with that and find peace despite the turmoil sure to come.

Can we vow to hold this conviction as well? When things go badly, when the whole world seems to be crashing around us, whether in the culture or in our personal lives, are we able to confidently declare that God is in control and find true peace in that reality? It can be difficult. This is why we must draw ever closer to God through prayer, Scripture, and the sacraments. We need the sustaining power of grace to help us and guide us through all of the challenges of this life. Let us end by contemplating two powerful statements:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference. — Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Fear is useless; what is needed is trust. (Mark 5:36)

Jacob Jordaens, detail of �Apostles Paul and Barnabas in Lystra� (1645), oil on canvas, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna.
Apostles Paul and Barnabas in Lystra (detail) (1645) by Jacob Jordaens

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