St. Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement”

April 28 – St. Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement”

In our first reading this Sunday, we hear about Saul (who became St. Paul) being helped by Barnabas. After his conversion, many people were afraid and suspicious of Saul, as he had been persecuting Christians. He had, after all, watched approvingly as St. Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:58; 8:1). Some thought Saul’s conversion was just a trick to try and trap them somehow and get them all killed. Barnabas, however, seeing that Saul was genuine and seeing his zeal and gift for preaching, decided to take Saul under his wing (See Acts 9:26-27). Later, Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” (See Acts 4:36) further encourages Saul’s gifts by inviting him into ministry at the growing Church of Antioch. Had it not been for Barnabas, Saul probably would never have become the great apostle St. Paul that we know!

Barnabas had a younger cousin named John Mark, sometimes just simply called Mark (See Col 4:10). Barnabas, again, saw many gifts in Mark and invited him to go on mission with him and Paul (Acts 13:5). However, partway through the mission, for whatever reason, Mark suddenly decides to return home to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Later, Barnabas again invites Mark on mission with him and Paul; but Paul is still so upset about Mark abandoning their first mission that he refuses to go again on mission with Mark. So, Barnabas and Paul decide to go separate ways and Barnabas takes Mark under his wing – again, seeing the good and believing in people who others can’t see (see Acts 15:36-41). Tradition holds that Mark later became the first bishop of Alexandria, a very important city, a center of culture and learning in the world at that time. And Mark himself would contribute to the great center of learning by writing down the succinct and concise story of Christ, in what we know now as the Gospel according to St. Mark! Also, St. Mark’s Feast Day was just celebrated on April 25.

Had it not been for Barnabas, willing to see the good where others couldn’t, Paul would probably not have become the great pillar figure that we know him as, and probably would not have written all those important letters that are now a part of our Scriptures. If it had not been for Barnabas, Mark may never have become a bishop or written down the story of Christ, the Gospel that has been passed down to us!

So, who are the Barnabas figures in your own life? Who has seen the good and gifts in you and encouraged those gifts? Who has encouraged you to live and share your faith? Who has encouraged you to share your story? and, how are we Barnabas to others? Are we the “ones who encourage” and foster to life the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit in people around us?


– Fr. Kevin

PS: Congratulations on all who made their First Communion today!