Today the Church celebrates the memory and witness of St. Barnabas.
Barnabas is remembered as an apostle, yet his name does not appear in the lists of the original twelve apostles chosen by the Lord Jesus.
What we know if him can be gleaned from the Acts of the Apostles, which tells us that he was a great friend and advocate of St. Paul. His name “Barnabas,” which means “son of encouragement,” has always been taken to illumine his character. His disposition must have been a shining light in the often troubled times of the Church’s early life.
But like most of the apostles, the details of who he was and what he accomplished have long since disappeaed into the Church’s mission. And this is fitting — for as the Lord increases, we must decrease.
One of the greatest desires we have is to be remembered, to be able to rest in a sense of accomplishments and receive recognition. True holiness delivers us from this inclination. For we are not called by the Lord to receive honors or even to see the great work of our lives to fruition. We give generously of what the Lord has given us, not because we will necessarily get something in return, but becasue in doing so we give praise to God and imitate the love by which he saved us.
Any memorial we seek for ourselves in this world passes away. What endures are faith, hope and love.
This spiritual truth should not only challenge us, but encourage us, for it means that everything is not simply dependent upon us. We are part of a greater purpose than our own ego, and a greater power than our own will moves us, shapes us and directs us toward our ultimate destiny.
On this feast of Barnabas, let us give praise to God for the life and destiny he has given us in Jesus Christ.