Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Barnabas: Man of Encouragement!

From the Hermitage

Feast of St. Barnabas

Dear Friends,

With God's graces and care, I have returned to St. Matthias where the Hermitage is located.  My brother has  had to return to the hospital for another week or more and then, hopefully, will be able to move to a rehabilitation center.  This man has surely endure much suffering of mind soul and body.  Please continue to remember him in your prayers.  He has a journey ahead that will further test his patience and his faith!

I can say that today my brother could use a visit by St. Barnabas.  What a trooper, as we say, Barnabas was.  According to some records he was born in the year 1 AD.  He was a Jewish man who lived in Antioch.  He was a late joiner to the Apostles' company.  He was, again according to an early history, the cousin of the Evangelist, St. Mark.

Barnabas, the name, means Son of Encouragement.  He became a believer in Jesus Christ and did much to spread the Good News.  He, in particular, is responsible for encouraging the Apostles to accept St. Paul into the group of the Apostles.  Later in his life he also brought St. Mark to help him and St. Paul in their early work as missionaries.

 Strange, isn't it, that here in the Middle Atlantic States, rare is the person named Barnabas.  More often it happens to be a monk that bears this saints name.  In my reflection today, I think, were I a parent, I would certainly consider naming a child after this saint.  I would treasure a son who would be like Barnabas, a son who gave much of his life seeking the good in others, nurturing a heart that seeks to give encouragement to others, especially those who are seeking to find the vocation that God has planted in the heart.

We can become like Barnabas in our times.  There are so many young people who are seeking to find what it is that God wants of them in their lives.  I am a priest today because a Pastor gave me my First Communion and bent over and whispered into my ear, "I believe God want you to be a priest."  Later that day, back in 1947, he visited our home where Mom and Dad had a cake and ice cream for the family.  He presented me a gift:  a statue of the Infant of Prague which I have until this day.  When he gave me the gift, he said "Don't forget what I said to you when I gave you Holy Communion."
How our Church needs men and women who have the spirit of St. Barnabas, men and women who encourage others to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, men and women who are willing to give their lives to priesthood, religious life, or active laity in the service of the Church.  An army of Barnabas-like folks would surely make a new order of things for us in our Church today.

St. Barnabas, thank you for encouraging the Apostles to accept Saul, the convert who became the great teacher and missionary for the early Church.  May your graces come to us today and plant in our hearts a strong desire to reach out and help those who are searching.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt