Fifth Sunday in Easter Season - 2012
Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem, and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord. He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus. The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.
If you read this selections from the Acts of the Apostles, you might sense that Luke is recording a significant moment in the history of the Church that Jesus founded upon his apostles. In short, imagine what the Church might have been like had there not been a Barnabas or had Barnabas not been the philanthropist he was for the early Church. Were it not for Barnabas, would Paul of Tarsus become the remarkable influence in the Church then and now? It was Barnabas who believed in the man who had been a frightful power against the early Christians. Why should the Christians be willing to risk placing trust in the man once was so fiercely committed against the Christians?
We might consider the event above a one-time moment in history. Maybe so but do we not find ourselves facing similar situations in our lives today, in our Church today, in our society today? Consider the men and women who become marginalized in our society because of their prior actions against society or individuals in a community: the drug addict, the embezzler, the rapist, the liar and the illegal aliens. Are we willing to offer any such person a "second chance"? Are we willing to work with those who may have broken a trust at one time or another? Are we open to the possibility that one act of kindness might change a life from evil to good? Are we afraid to be a modern-day Barnabas?
The suffering and death of Jesus Christ in all of its brutality should be a reminder to all of us that the Son of God endured all of the torture of his final hours for each and every sinner. It is Jesus who stands before his Father time and again for every sinner: Father forgive them! Give them another chance, another opportunity.
Take a moment to consider this: Why would the Holy Spirit inspire the mind of St. Luke to include an account of Paul's introduction by Barnabas? Why would Barnabas "take charge of him (Paul) and bring him to the apostles? Why would he risk his own reputation? Why would he take a chance on a man who had been an enemy? Use this moment in your own prayer to ask yourself before God "Am I in any way like those who refused to accept Paul?