Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle
Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3
"They sent Barnabas to go to Antioch."
Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Barnabas. His original name was Joseph. But the Apostles called him Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement." He collaborated with Paul as they entered into uncharted territory, proclaiming the good news, not to Jews but to Gentiles, not in Jerusalem but in Antioch and elsewhere. They left behind the familiar for the unfamiliar. Barnabas and Paul, as we know, had a sharp disagreement. They stumbled along the way. But the Paraclete – the one who walks along side us, to pick us up when we stumble – was with them.
As I reflected on this reading and its implications for us today, Fr. Pat Brennan telephoned me to share "something interesting" that emerged from the weeklong Western Provincial Chapter of the Passionist Community in Detroit. The community did something it had never done before. They elected to their Board of Consultors Fr. Richard Burke, who already serves as a consultor for his own Eastern St. Paul of the Cross Province. In this unique role, he will serve as a collaborative bridge between the communities of these two provinces.
This is certainly "something interesting," and in the spirit of Barnabas’ name, very encouraging. Like Paul and Barnabas, the Eastern and Western provinces will work in collaboration as they enter uncharted territory, discerning how together they can more effectively proclaim Christ and him Crucified. They may stumble, perhaps even disagree. That’s okay. The Paraclete will be with them, walking along side to pick them up if they stumble.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.