Today, June 11, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Barnabas* martyr, humble preacher of Christianity, early apostle, and faithful companion to Saint Paul.
Saint Barnabas was instrumental in the foundations of the Church, and it’s eventual spread throughout the world. Initially, Scripture leads us to believe that he was a wealthy landowner, who gave up all he had to the fledgling Christian community. He was humble, concerned only with the glory of God and provided support and encouragement to the disciples. He was able to see the good in others.
For his gifts, the disciples gave him a special name—unique to his contributions to the community— “Son of Encouragement.” Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement) sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37). Saint Barnabas lived his name—the Son of Encouragement– first with the disciples, and then later with Saint Paul during their evangelical travels together.
In the Acts of the Apostles (11: 22-24), Saint Luke tells us that Barnabas was sent to Antioch to see Christian ministry with the Greeks was going. Saint Barnabas, filed with the Holy Spirit, travelled to Tarsus to seek out Saint Paul. Together, they returned to Antioch, where Scripture indicates that Paul served as assistant to Barnabas in preaching and evangelizing. Later when Paul moved into the leadership position Barnabas continued to travel with Paul.
After a miracle at Lystra, the people wanted to offer sacrifice to them as gods—Barnabas being Zeus, and Paul, Hermes—but the two said, “We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God” (see Acts 14:8-18).
He was present with Paul at the Council of Jerusalem. While they were preparing for the second missionary journey, there arose a difference of opinion regarding Mark; as a result each continued his labors separately. Barnabas went to Cyprus with Mark and Paul taking Silas to Syria.
Later, they were reconciled—Paul, Barnabas and Mark. After traveling to Italy, Saint Barnabas returned to Cyrus, where he was martyred at Salamis by stoning while preaching in the synagogue. His body was buried by Saint John Mark (his younger cousin), and his relics were housed in a monastery built at the place of his death. He remains the patron saint of Cyprus. His name is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass since ancient times.
*Saint Barnabas, pray for us!*