In those days a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene,
Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Hearing about some new development in something near and dear to us can evoke a variety of responses. We may immediately interpret it as interference. We might be curious, or we might become anxious or disturbed. It is very instructive how the early Church reacted to the news that a large number of Gentiles in the area of Antioch were becoming followers of Christ. They decided to send someone to learn more about what was going on.
As our first reading from Acts about today’s saint indicates, they clearly picked the right man. His name—Barnabas—literally means “Son of Encouragement.” When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them. Someone who was not a good man filled with the Holy Spirit and faith might have taken a course that would have impeded the expansion of the Church among the Gentiles.
Too often new members of parish pastoral councils or committees are squelched with the remark, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Our Jesuit 34th General Congregation has a document that reminds Jesuits to have a profound respect for the ways in which God is already at work in the lives of all men and women. God’s action does not begin with what we do.
What new things are developing around me? How is God already at work in them? How do I move forward with the direction the Spirit is taking?
—Fr. Joe Folzenlogen, S.J. is vice-superior of the Faber Jesuit Community in Cincinnati and Director of Claver Jesuit Ministry.
God, you tell us, “Behold, I am doing something new.” At times we welcome that newness; at other times we resist it. Deepen our trust so that we can follow Jesus into your future. Amen.
—Fr. Joe Folzenlogen , S.J. is vice-superior of the Faber Jesuit Community in Cincinnati and Director of Claver Jesuit Ministry.