Today we read of Jesus’ commissioning the twelve apostles for mission work. It would be difficult work-sheep among wolves-but it was essential work. The kingdom of God was near, a new way of life had begun; people needed to be prepared so they could welcome this kingdom in faith. So the disciples were to teach, heal, forgive, exorcise. They were to take no provision with them on their mission, but were to rely on the generosity of those to whom they ministered.
Barnabas was not one of those twelve apostles. It wasn’t until after Jesus’ ascension that he appears on the scene. He sold a field and donated the proceeds to the church. He accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey and to an important church council in Jerusalem. Later, he and Paul had a falling out, and Barnabas basically drops off the biblical page.
Tradition has it that Barnabas returned to his native Cyprus, founded the Cyprian Orthodox Church, and was martyred there.
Barnabas, or any saint for that matter, was not called to do anything which we ourselves have not been called to do. We, too, are called to share the story of Jesus and the new kingdom he brings. May we be as faithful.
Sending God, send us out but please stay with us. Amen. — DAB