When Paul had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Today is the feast day of St. Barnabas the Apostle. We are introduced to Barnabas in Acts 4:36
37 and discover he was a Levite, a native of Cyprus and his name meant “son of encouragement.” Barnabas lived into his name when he stood up and advocated for Paul. Before his conversion, Paul persecuted Christians so it is no surprise that the rest of the apostles were wary of acknowledging him as a disciple and letting him join them in proclaiming the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. However, Barnabas testified to them of the genuine conversion that Paul had undergone and encouraged them to accept Paul as a disciple. Think for a minute about all the people who came to follow Jesus from Paul’s preaching and teaching. Just think how different it would be for us to hear about the life of Jesus and the early church without Paul’s letters! How different would
lives and faith be if Barnabas had not convinced the other apostles to give Paul a second chance?
When have you defended someone in order that they might have a second chance? Have you ever been given a second chance?
It is improbable, and maybe impossible, for us to know that someone needs or deserves a second chance without listening. Without listening to people’s stories, learning from where they have come and hearing them, we cannot be advocates. Likewise, it is important to tell your own story when you are in need of a second chance. There are many ways our faith may be enriched by the life and witness of Barnabas. For today, the value of giving people our ear and giving them a second chance from Barnabas and his defense of Paul.
Collect for St. Barnabas
Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer
, page 241
The Rev. Lisa R. Neilson
Associate for Pastoral Care and Women's Ministries