Readings: Acts 11:21-26,13:1-3, Ps. 98:1-6, Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?” (Matthew 5:13)

Today, we celebrate the feast of a Saint whose life represents what Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14). All we know of Barnabas is to be found in the New Testament. A Jew born in Cyprus named Joseph sold his property and gave the proceeds to the Apostles, who named him Barnabas (Acts 4:36). He lived in common with the earliest converts to Christianity in Jerusalem.

- The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” This name became a prophecy of Barnabas’ life. Barnabas, through his unwavering belief in Paul's potential, persuaded the early Christian community to accept Paul as a disciple and played a pivotal role in shaping Paul's future as a successful preacher. In Acts 9:26-28, we read: “And when Saul had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So Saul went in and out among them at Jerusalem.” When the church sent Barnabas to minister to the new converts at Antioch, Barnabas went to Tarsus to bring Paul, giving him a platform to exercise his potential. Barnabas is the reason Paul turned out to be such a successful preacher. No matter how good we are, we all need people like Barnabas who coach (encourage) us into the stars we are meant to be.

- While others were scared of Paul because they judged him as a bad person who later became a Christian, Barnabas saw in Paul a very good man who had a bad past. In this way, Barnabas acted as the salt of the earth, as Jesus instructs in today’s Gospel passage. Just as salt preserves food (prevents it from going stale), Barnabas helped to preserve whatever good was in Saul until he became Paul. Let us learn from Barnabas to be less judgemental of people while encouraging them to let their light shine. Even the worst sinners have some degree of light in them.

- Barnabas mentored Paul and later became his partner when the Holy Spirit set them apart on a mission to evangelise the world. As we read in today’s first reading: “While they (Christians in Antioch) were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” (Acts 13:2). In the course of this mission, Barnabas allowed Paul to become the chief speaker while he followed. (cf. Acts 14:8-12). Jesus wants us to let our shine; however, this does not mean we should outshine others or engage in unhealthy rivalry. Today, even among ministers of God, we find competition and conflict; everyone wants to be on their own. Let us learn from Barnabas to be humble and avoid unhealthy rivalry but to let our light shine in a way that glorifies God.

- Tradition records that Barnabas preached in Alexandria and Rome, that he founded the Cypriote Church, and that he was stoned to death at Salamis about the year 61. As we remember St. Barnabas today, we must ask: “When last did I attempt to preach the Gospel or seek to convert those going astray? What efforts do I consciously make to live like the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” Remember that as long as there is electricity, a light bulb will keep shining whether or not there are people in the room. The problem many Christians have is pretence; they only let their light shine when others watch. Repent from hypocrisy; if you are not convinced about Jesus, you cannot convince anyone else.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, always make me conscious of my true identity and act accordingly. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God's abundant blessings be upon us all. (Saint Barnabas, Apostle. Bible Study: Acts 11:21-26,13:1-3, Ps. 98:1-6, Matthew 5:13-16).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu