Although he was not one of the original twelve apostles, Barnabas is called an apostle by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. This is because, like Paul the apostle, Barnabas received a special mission from God. He was a Jew born on the island of Cyprus. His name was Joseph, but the apostles changed it to Barnabas. This name means “son of consolation.”
As soon as he became a Christian, Barnabas sold all he owned and gave the money to the apostles. He was a good, kind–hearted man. He was full of enthusiasm to share his belief in and love for Jesus. Barnabas was sent to the city of Antioch to preach the Gospel. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. It was where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Barnabas realised that he needed help. He thought of Paul of Tarsus, a former persecutor of the Christians who had been converted when Jesus appeared to him. It was Barnabas who convinced St. Peter and the Christian community that Paul really loved Jesus and wanted to spread his Gospel. Barnabas asked Paul to come and work with him. Barnabas was a humble person. He was not afraid of sharing responsibility and power. He knew that Paul, too, had a great gift to give, and he wanted him to have the chance to share that gift.
Sometime later, the Holy Spirit chose Paul and Barnabas for a special assignment. Not long afterward, the two apostles set off on a daring missionary journey. They had many sufferings to bear and often risked their lives. Despite the hardships, their preaching won many people to Jesus and his Church.
Later St. Barnabas went on another missionary journey, this time with his relative, John Mark. They went to Barnabas’ own country of Cyprus. So many people became believers through his preaching that Barnabas is called the apostle of Cyprus. It is commonly believed that this great saint was stoned to death in the year 61.
St. Barnabas received a name that symbolised what he was—a good person who encouraged others to love the Lord. Let’s always try to cheer up those who are sad or lonely. Let’s encourage others to love God by the good example we give.
St. Barnabas pray for us.