Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ceding gracefully

Today is the feast of the heroic St. Barnabas. He was the apostle (not one of the Twelve, though) who vouched for the sincerity of the persecutor Saul's conversion, and got him accepted into the community of believers. And then when Saul's overweening zeal (!) caused problems for the community, who invited him to go home to Tarsus, it was Barnabas who traveled there to find him and invite him to minister in Antioch. It was from Antioch that Barnabas, the leader, and his companion, Saul, set out to evangelize. And it was on that "first missionary voyage" that Barnabas, the leader and Apostle, ceded to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles.
Barnabas' great quality was that he could recognize the presence and action of God in the most unlikely circumstances. He recognized God's power at work in Saul the former persecutor. He recognized the power of the Spirit in the conversion of pagans to the Gospel in Antioch. And when Saul began to outshine him in preaching the Gospel, he recognized the grace of God there, too, and let Paul the Apostle "increase" while he decreased.
All together, you can really understand why this man's nickname was "Son of Consolation."


Jon Swanson said...

and he recognized ...and lived out...the grace of God for John Mark, such that Paul moved from not trusting Mark to wanting him close.

An amazing example of persistent patience with people.

Sister Anne said...

I guess we could say that Barnabas' vocation was to foster other people's vocations!

Anonymous said...

By fostering other peoples vocations, does that imply financial support as well as encouragement, in other words, being an angel to that person during that process. Many vocations come from poor families.

Sister Anne said...

That could certainly come into the picture! There are some foundations that help with things like paying off student loans and so on, all contingent on the person's actually persevering... There are many cases in which a student loan stands between a person and his or her vocation.

Anonymous said...

I recently met a missionary in the mold of Saints Paul and Barnabas. This missionary (who would probably not recognize this word used to describe her) shared the presence of Christ in a smile, a word of kindness, stories about her family (she's a mother, grandmother and soon-to-be great grandmother), and a readiness to listen to another. Sometimes the great "missionary voyage" is just to the corner grocery, to the post office or to the gym. It is not the destination that is most important but rather the people we meet and the quality of the interaction with each one along the way. By the way, my new "missionary" friend bears a striking resemblance to your picture, Sr. Anne.