A man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, a generous soul willing to give until it hurts, a man positive, upbeat, enthusiastic, always seeing the positive in persons, circumstances and even trials---- this great man of God is SAINT BARNABAS!

In a world where hope has been overcome by doubts and fears, compliments give way to criticism and gossip, and despair suffocates the virtue of hope, more than ever does the world need examples like the kind, loving, encouraging and always “Affirming” person of  ST. BARNABAS!

His name “Barnabas” actually means “Son of encouragement”.   One of the three later Apostles—with Paul and Matthias--- his origin was Cypress and being a man of economic means, he sold a farm and gave the proceeds to the Apostles, manifesting both detachment from material things and generosity of spirit.   He lived out the Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt.5:3).

One of the principal reasons why Saul of Tarsus was given credibility was due to the person of Barnabas.  The radical conversion of Saul on the road to Tarsus was not believed by all—due to the violent past of Saul, who concurred in the stoning and martyrdom of the Proto-martyr, St. Stephen.  Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, Barnabus believed in the authenticity of the conversion of Saul and gave proof to the Apostles that Saul’s conversion was  “The Real thing!”

ANTIOCH.   In Antioch, Barnabas with St. Paul were instrumental in teaching, instructing, exhorting huge numbers who came to the faith. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were for the first time given the name “Christian”.

MISSIONARY.   As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, while the Apostles were dedicated to prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit expressed a missionary excursion that would change the world!   It was to set apart both Paul and Barnabas to go and preach the Lord Jesus, calling to mind the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Matthew:  “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” (Mt. 28:19-20).

FRIEND, COMPANION, MISSIONARY.   Jesus wanted to send them out in two! Barnabas had the ability to work well with others.  The devil tries to divide and separate. This is often present in families,  communities, meetings, parishes, and groups in general.  The spirit of St. Barnabas teaches us the importance of living peacefully together, working side-by-side for the purpose of glorifying God and saving souls. Barnabas could see the good in others and build on that!

DEATH BY MARTYRDOM!  According to tradition, St. Barnabas died receiving the palm of martyrdom.  His death, similar to that of the Proto-martyr, St. Stephen, was by being stoned to death!   Tradition has it that they found him clasping a hand-written copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew to his heart--- dying proclaiming Jesus with his lips, having followed Jesus by an authentic life-style and breathing forth his spirit with the Word of God over his heart!   What a splendid model for us!

WAYS TO BE A “BARNABAS”—son/daughter of encouragement!

1.    SMILE! Learn to radiate joy by a warm and loving smile—can be worth more than a million words and it is indeed contagious. Inexpensive too!

2.    PRAY! Pray for somebody today, especially somebody who is going through bouts of  discouragement and depression!

3.    QUOTE A BIBLE PASSAGE!   Why not quote to somebody, in the right time and moment guided by the Holy Spirit, an encouraging Biblical passage. A suggestion!  “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” (Psalm 23).

4.    LISTEN!  An authentic sign of charity is the ability to listen attentively to others.  Attention, good will, understanding, patience, a peaceful and joyful countenance--- these are all positive signs of a good listener! It is said of Mother Teresa, Pope Paul VI (and other saints) that they had the uncanny gift of listening to others. Those who spoke to these saints, felt as if they were the only person in the world. Undivided attention was given to them!

5.    ENCOURAGE!   This can be done by hand gesture, by a smile, but especially through words! Incorporate into your vocabulary words and expressions that lift others up, edify!  Examples of encouraging words might be:  “Well done!” “Great!”  “Victory!”  “This will be the best day of your life!”  “God will provide!”   “The Lord be with you!”  “Shalom!”  It is interesting to note that in sports, almost always, teams have a tendency to win more games at home rather than away.  The reason must be obvious!  At home the team is cheered on to victory!   Who should we encourage? Everybody! However, there should be a hierarchy of order of those we should encourage as first and second on the list! Husbands’ wives and wives’ husbands. Parents should encourage their children. Siblings--- instead of bickering and fighting, which is all too common—should mutually support and encourage each other!   In other words, charity begins at home!   St. Bonaventure paves us the way with this immortal statement:  “We should open our mouths to praise God, accuse ourselves and to edify others.”  Superb advice from this Franciscan Doctor of the Church!

A few years ago there was a study about the huge success of a Japanese company! The conclusion of the study was one concept---- ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT!   One man was hired in the company with the sole purpose of encouraging, complimenting and affirming the workers on their good work! When we smile at, encourage, affirm, support, and compliment indeed we can truly bring the best out of others!  Why not be a modern “Barnabas”!

May Our Lady, “Cause of our joy”,  who encouraged and supported St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist  by her holy, happy, hopeful presence intercede for us so that we can always be a ray of light, a spark of hope, a glimmer of peace, and a clear signpost towards heaven!