Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of St. Barnabas, who was counted among one of the Apostles, as he was a renowned early Church father and missionary, following and accompanying St. Paul in several of his missionary journeys, spreading the Good News and the Gospel to the many people in towns and cities across Eastern Mediterranean region. St. Barnabas accompanied St. Paul through the arduous journey, encountering good welcome from quite a few among the communities they visited, but they also encountered significant opposition and rejection from many other communities and places they visited.
As recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, and as what might have been even missed and uncounted in the Acts, St. Barnabas and St. Paul had encountered many great challenges, even moments when they were in danger of death. They were stoned in some occasions, and left for death. Only by the grace and love of God that they somehow escaped death, and they then still continued to labour and work hard for the Lord. They did not fear suffering and death, knowing what they had signed up for when they dedicated themselves to the missions of Christ.
They did what the Lord had told His disciples in our Gospel passage today, in sending them to towns and places to proclaim the Good News and the truth of God. They brought only the absolute necessities and did not bring spares with them, that they were able to focus on their mission, and depending on the good will of the people they visited, and when they encountered opposition and challenges, rejection and refusal, they left those places for other places that might be more willing to listen to them.
Through all of these and many other hard works that St. Barnabas had done together with St. Paul, and in other occasions when he travelled by himself and preaching to other communities and towns, many people became believers and were baptised as Christians. The Holy Spirit guided him and the other Apostles and disciples as they laboured hard for the greater glory of God. The Lord was with them and they were strengthened and empowered even in the moments of their greatest distress and sorrow.
And brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate the great feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle today, we therefore recall his hard work and efforts, his dedication to the service of God, in spreading the Good News and in reaching out to the people, many of whom became believers through his efforts. He put himself through danger, even through danger of death just so that more souls could be saved through repentance, conversion and faith in the Lord.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us must realise that the works done by the Apostles were just the beginning of the works of the Church, and throughout time, countless people, some of whom now honoured as saints, martyrs and blesseds, had taken up the same works and gave themselves to the same ministry as the Apostles like St. Barnabas had done. They had endured much persecution and challenges, just as St. Barnabas had experienced, but they also led many people to God and to their salvation in Him.
We are all now called to follow in their footsteps, to continue the good labour and hard work that they had done for the Lord’s greater glory. We are all called to be witnesses of the Lord’s truth in our own respective communities, in our societies, and even within our own families and among our circle of friends. And it is often that we do not realise, that to be living out this mission of the Lord, which He entrusted to us, it is often not necessary for us to preach and speak. Instead, it is by our actions, all steeped in genuine faith, that we will speak the loudest for the Lord’s sake.
The Apostles themselves inspired us all by their tireless dedication to the Lord, the love they showed to one another, the mercy and compassion they had to all peoples, even to those who have rejected and persecuted them, as well as the patience they had shown throughout their works and ministries. And that is why all of us also need to show this sincerity in our faith, that everyone may know the Lord, His truth and love through our own examples and good faith.
Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Barnabas, dedicating ourselves to the Lord to spread the message of God’s truth in our own communities, by living a genuine and faithful Christian life. Let us all be exemplary with our lives and commit ourselves as genuine and true Christians from this moment onwards. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us in our resolve to serve Him, now and forevermore. Amen.