Monday, 11 June 2018

Saint Barnabas

St. Barnabas, whose feast we celebrate today was a great friend of St. Paul, and accompanied him on many of his missionary journeys he did after his conversion. He was born in Cyprus and was originally named Joseph. But when he joined the apostles and became a beloved disciple, they gave him the name Barnabas, which means ‘Son of Encouragement.’ In fact he was the person who introduced Paul to the other apostles. He joined them in his mission of preaching and baptizing new Christians. On some of his journeys they even had St. Mark with them. But on his journey to Rome, when St Paul being shipwrecked on Malta, he had St Luke with him. But Paul and Barnabas worked very well together and many people used to call them Hermes and Zeus, referring to two Greek Gods. It is said that Barnabas could be the author of the letter to the Hebrews, because it has a completely different style from the other letters which Paul wrote. He took part in the Council of Jerusalem and was influential in introducing the Orthodox church in Cyprus, where he was unfortunately martyred there in 61 AD. Barnabas worked close to sailors and cloth merchants while in Cyprus, and in Famagusta, there is a big monastery dedicated to him. He is of course the patron saint of Cyprus. His life teaches us to be companions to each other, especially those who are gifted with similar talents. There are people who are gifted to work with young children, others to work with youth, yet others to work with the elderly. And then there are others like myself, who always worked well with the young and the old.

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