HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF ST. BARNABAS, APOSTLE
THEME: LIFE OF TRUE CHRISTIAN
BY: Fr. Francis Onwunali
HOMILY FOR SATURDAY JUNE 11 2022
The Church celebrates today, the Memorial of St. Barnabas, apostle. Barnabas was born in Cyprus. One of the first converts in Jerusalem. The Apostles changed his name from Joseph to Barnabas, meaning, ‘son of encouragement’ (Acts 4: 36). Soon after Pentecost, Barnabas went with Paul on his first missionary journey, and took part in the Council of Jerusalem. Then he returned to Cyprus to preach the gospel, and died there.
The first reading (Acts 11: 21-26, 13: 1-3), gives account of the call and ministry of Barnabas. He brought St. Paul back to Antioch and they preached the gospel together for one year before the ‘elders’ sent them out on mission as directed by the Holy Spirit. It was at this time in Antioch that the followers were first called ‘Christians’- “Christ-like people”.
In the gospel (Matt. 5: 20-26), Jesus continues with His Sermon on the Mount raising the behavioural bar in relationships for His disciple against the self-praise behaviour of the religious leaders of the time. Jesus urges us to stamp out anger which is the root cause of disharmony in relationships. For effective worship of God in spirit and truth, anger must be eschewed and reconciliation enthroned.
Dear friends, only with mercy, kindness and forebearance springing from a heart full of love and forgiveness can anger and rage be dealt with. Deep-seated anger is like a poison one takes believing that it will kill another person. Do you live with raging anger in your life? Your joy and freedom can only be restored when you let go of the cause of your anger. God’s grace is enough, learn to draw “strength” from it.
I pray as we journey in life today, we will realize that like Barnabas, we are called to be ambassadors of God’s love, forgiveness and honesty. The life we live should be enough gospel to transform those who we encounter. May we be liberated from the bondage of anger and live in the freedom of love, mercy and reconciliation. Have a liberation-full day!
Fr. Francis Onwunali