Monday, June 11, 2007

The Clay God Uses: Barnabas

Peace and Good! A wonderful trait of St. Barnabas seems to have been his ability to see potential in people. It was he, the Acts of the Apostles tells us (12:25-26), who went to Tarsus to seek Saul to help with the wonderful work of the Spirit in Antioch. The other Christians had sent Saul, the former persecutor, away to Tarsus and seemingly forgot about him, perhaps even still suspicious of his conversion. But Barnabas saw his potential, which he wonderfully encouraged. (His name, after all, means 'son of encouragement.' Acts 4:36)

It is interesting that later in Acts he and Saul (now Paul) have an argument about his young cousin John Mark, who had abandoned them earlier Acts 15:36-39). Barnabas saw the potential in the young man and argued strongly that he deserved another chance. Paul disagreed, and in the end they parted. In this matter Barnabas was wiser, for John Mark is usually identified with the author of the Gospel of Mark. So Barnabas' encouragement was wise.

I think of Francis encouraging others to the gospel life. Some of them, perhaps, would not have seemed to be very good material. His prejudices would have warned him that Clare and Rufino were nobles and too used to an easy life. But he saw in them great potential, and encouraged it.

I pray that St. Barnabas will both encourage us in our own lives and vocations, and help us to discern the good in others and the possibilities in them for God's grace to work.

(The painting is of Paul and Barnabas is Lystra Acts. 14)

God bless!

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