Icon of St. Barnabas in Cyprus (1921). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gospel of the Memorial of St. Barnabas, apostle

Matthew 10: 7-13

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.

Reflection of Fr. Mauro Primavera

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the Church celebrates St. Barnabas, an exquisite fruit of the Church’s inexhaustible mission. He was like you and I, joined by the zeal of the apostles who announced and testified to us that we can live where no one can resist. With their life, in fact, they showed us an unthinkable “show” that has never seen before. It was an unthinkable “show” because the devil had convinced us that Heaven does not exist since God does not exist, and if God does exist, then he is unfair. The “show” of their life descends to the “last place” on earth, where they are “condemned to death,” experience “the refusal of all,” and become the “garbage” of the world” (cf. 1 Cor 4.9ff). How can you “endure” a “death sentence”? What would anyone who is considered “garbage” have to “bless”? How do you “comfort” everyone who “is rejected by everyone”? Yet precisely in all of this, the apostles announced and showed us that “the Kingdom of Heaven is near”! It was in them we saw it, and for this reason, we believed. We leaned on their word and welcomed the “peace” that “Shalom” brings, which is the messianic gift that in Scripture is the daughter of God’s loving gaze: “the Lord turn his face to you and grant you peace” (Nm 6.26).

The Church is sent to announce the “peace” of the “kingdom of God,” or the fullness of life that can be experienced even “in the last place.” For this reason, the Church’s mission is a sort of “work in progress.” It is accomplished “along the way” in search of the lost sheep beginning with the apostles to whom Jesus appeared in person and said: “‘Peace be with you!’ Amazed and frightened, they thought they saw a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your heart? Look at my hands and my feet: it’s me! Touch me and look; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ In saying this, he showed them his hands and feet” (Lk. 24,36-40). This meeting is the most pregnant image of the Church’s mission.

Indeed, evangelization is “showing” the world the “hands and feet” of the risen Christ, his glorious wounds in our flesh. As Pope Francis said, we are the “arms, hands, feet, mind and heart of an outgoing Church” towards those who exchange the resurrection for “a ghost” produced by the imagination of men to alleviate the fear of death. Brothers and sisters, we are therefore sent to the people whom God has put “along the way of our existence to appear” before them with our flesh resurrected with Christ, that is, free from the slavery of sin and offered for free, for love.

 

This is why St. Paul says that it is not a boast to announce the Gospel, but a DUTY, an assignment, an imperative that flows from a restless heart until he has found his own Eve, the lost brother. As it was in Barnabas, we are too transformed by baptism into “children of consolation.” We too “are put aside for the work to which God has destined us.” This means to live “as condemned to death” in the “last place” where God puts us so that it appears in us that DEATH HAS BEEN OVERCOME but that this is precisely the place closest to the Kingdom of God.

 

God Bless You,

Fr. Mauro