June 11, 2020 – Feast of St Barnabas

“Becoming persons who encourage, console and strengthen them, ‘by one by one, putting back the stars’ in their life!”

(Based on the Feast of St Barnabas)

A story is said of a man who lived a very fine life.

Being a carpenter, he had helped in the construction works of the church.
He was also very benevolent in helping people who needed his counselling and guiding skills

However, at a particular phase in his life, many things went wrong…

His wife had a sudden death and the man found himself at a deep loss
There was also a financial crisis that he faced, with a few people exploiting his simple innocence

These and many other experiences left him quite broken, dejected and defeated.

It was at this time, that attending a Sunday Mass, he heard the priest preaching on the Love and Providence of God.

The sermon touched him much… the Word of God moved him greatly.

After the Mass, he approached the priest to have a talk with him

The priest welcomed him cordially, and the two spoke for a long time.

After his sharing, the man felt extremely relieved and coming back home, he told his neighbour:
“What a man he is…!
“When I went into his office, all the stars had fallen out of my skies – but one by one he put them back again…
I feel so much stronger and hopeful, now…!

Experiences in life are often such…
… unfair and unjust
… partial and discriminatory

We therefore are in need of encouragements in life…
… to lift our sagging spirits
… to raise our deadened hopes
… to boost our depressed minds

In situations where “the stars fall out of our skies”…
… we need encouragements and support to have them ” one by one, be put back again!”

Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of St Barnabas – who was an immense source of encouragement…
… and invites us to also become persons of encouragement to others.

In the Bible, there are many characters and personalities, who assume great importance and are in the highlight, by virtue of their words and deeds.

But there are also a few, who remain in the background, and yet are strong and powerful characters…
… St Barnabas, whose feast we celebrate today, is one such personality.

The word “Barnabas” in Greek means… “the Son of Encouragement”.

And true to his name, St Barnabas lived a life, “encouraging” the Christian Faith.

It’s amazing to see the very many practical ways in which St Barnabas can be a model and example for our Christian lives

Let’s pick up a few areas in which St Barnabas was a source of encouragement…for our practical Christian life.

  1. Religiously:
    Barnabas was of the tribe of Levi (Acts 4:36)

The tribe of Levi served particular religious duties for the Israelites and had political responsibilities as well.

The spirit of a strict Jewish System was much strong in Levites.
Yet, Barnabas breaks away from that strict religious system, to embrace Christianity – all for the Love of Jesus and His Church.

Am I willing to let go of my many faith-prejudices and false religious-notions and embrace Christ and His Church, for the love of Jesus and His Kingdom?

  1. Cultural
    Barnabas was from Cyprus, in Turkey (Acts 4:36)
    … and yet, he becomes a missionary to work in Jerusalem and other far-away places.

He transcends cultures and places, and moves beyond his own cultural, linguistic and ethnic boundaries – all for the Love of Jesus and His Church.

Am I willing to let go beyond my cultural, linguistic and ethnic barriers, for the love of Jesus and His Kingdom?

  1. Financially
    When the Early Church was in need, Barnabas sold his field, and gave the money to the Apostles (Acts 4:37)

He was sensitive to the needs of the Church and was willing to be self-giving – all for the love of Jesus and His Church.

Am I willing to let go of my richness, possessions and attachments, for the Love of Jesus and His Kingdom?

  1. Psychologically
    St Paul, after his dramatic conversion, was not easily accepted by the Early Church because of his ignominious past (Acts 9:26).

But Barnabas took the lead in helping Paul to be part of the preaching ministry, as Scripture testifies:
“But Barnabas took him (Paul) and brought him to the Apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27)

It was St Barnabas who supported and encouraged St Paul, in his initial days of struggle – all for the Love of Jesus and His Church.

Am I willing to accept and encourage people who are misunderstood and are mistreated, for the love of Jesus and His Kingdom?

e. Spiritually
St Barnabas was a person mightily filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:24)

Yet, he was happy and content to ‘play second fiddle’ – playing the minor and supportive role to St Paul, in his missionary endeavours.

He was willing to remain humble and meek – all for the Love of Jesus and His Church.

Am I willing to let go of my tendencies of spiritual pride, and instead remain humble and meek, for the love of Jesus and His Kingdom?

St Barnabas, remains a humble yet powerful challenge to our Christian lives.

He is one of the many unsung heroes of Christianity.

In life, we come across many who are broken and dejected, sad and hopeless…

We find many who “have the stars fallen out of their skies”

Can we become persons who encourage, console and strengthen them, “by one by one, putting back the stars” in their life?

St Barnabas invites and exhorts us…
… Are we willing to be a “Child of Encouragement?”

Happy Feast of the “Apostle of Encouragement”!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being.
You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist.

And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that!”

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