St Barnabas

Today is Thursday the 11th of June, the Feast of St Barnabas.

The monks of the Abbey of Keur Moussa sing, Sur tes murailles. ‘On your walls, Jerusalem, I set watchmen.  Day or night they must never be silent.’ These words from the Prophet Isaiah speak of the care God has for his people, watching over them at every moment, to guard them, guide them, protect them. As you enter into prayer, ponder for a moment the care that God has for you, how God, even now, is holding you in the palm of his hand.

Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 11:19-26  

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews.  But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.  The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.   News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.  When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion;  for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord.  Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians."  

At the beginning of this reading we hear of people scattered because of persecution – people going in different directions and regrouping themselves.  Can I remember a time like this in my own life?  A time of being really scattered, or perhaps just feeling scattered?… all over the place?… trying to gather myself together?   For a moment, remember how that felt.

This passage tells me that the hand of the Lord was with these people as they regrouped.  Barnabas was sent to visit them, and, it says, he saw the grace of God and rejoiced.  Can I see the grace of God in my time of feeling scattered and gathering myself together?  Can I see how the hand of the Lord was with me?

As I hear the word of God again, I might reflect on who has done for me what Barnabas did for these people – who has seen the grace of God in me and rejoiced?  Who has supported me?  Who has encouraged me? 

This might be a moment to give thanks to God for his care for me, even when I wasn’t aware of it, and for those people who have supported me.  I might also want to speak to God about where I can do the same for others – encouraging, seeing the grace of God and rejoicing.