When I think of Barnabas, I remember the encourager. The Jerusalem Church needed someone to send to Antioch, where many Gentiles were coming to Christ. They dispatched Barnabas, “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.” Barnabas arrived in Antioch and immediately “encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
When I think of Barnabas, I remember the friend. Many in the church feared Paul, the former Christian hunter and tormenter. They shunned him. Not Barnabas. He befriended Paul and even invited him to join Barnabas in his Antioch mission.
When I think of Barnabas, I remember the compassionate man. I was as fearful as Mark. Doubtful of my calling to the diaconate, I thought of abandoning my journey. And I was as disparaging as Paul. I saw only my failures. But a holy deacon, Ernie Nosari, like Barnabas, saw my potential. He believed in me, mentored me. With patience and compassion, he helped to prepare me for an exhilarating diaconate adventure.
Remember us, Barnabas. Take us to Antioch with you. Teach us how to encourage those who want to know the Lord. Introduce us to Paul, to those who feel shunned and lonely. Take us on your next voyage with Mark. Show us how to be compassionate to those who are discouraged. Show us how to reveal, not the failures, but the potential in others. And especially today, your feast day, Barnabas, show us how to be encourager, friend and compassionate. Show us how to be “good, and filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.”
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.