There is always a tendency for groups under threat to retreat in on themselves. This temptation has been one that the Church has often had to fight hard, and there are those today who want to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ against the hostile world. Tuesday’s feast of St. Barnabas reminds us of the proper response to problems and attacks: be confident in the Spirit and proclaim the good news even more boldly.
We are told a few things about him in the Acts. He is described as ‘full of the Holy Spirit and faith’. He introduced the persecutor Saul to the fledgling Church, and took the newly converted Paul with him to confirm the faith of the Christians in Antioch. He and Paul embarked on the first great missionary endeavour of the Church, and brought the good news to the Mediterranean world. He is traditionally held to have been martyred for the faith on the island of Cyprus.
The world that Barnabas and Paul lived in was very hostile to the Church. They and most of their companions were eventually murdered because they followed Christ. They are examples to us of faith, and courage, and perseverance – all of which we need to proclaim the good news of the gospel in our present difficulties. P.D.