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The Apostle of Encouragement - Weekday Homily Video

The Apostle of Encouragement - Weekday Homily Video

Learn more about our faith  |  Holy lives of inspiration

I vaguely remember reading the story of a carpenter who helped build the Church and counselled others faced hardships - his wife's sudden death, financial troubles, and exploitation. Dejected, he attended Mass and was moved by the priest's sermon on God's love. Afterward, he spoke with the priest at length. 

The man felt immensely relieved, telling his neighbor, "When I went to his office, all hope was lost—but one by one, he restored my hope. I feel so much stronger and hopeful now!" Life's unfair experiences can drain us. When "the stars fall from our skies," we need encouragement and support to restore hope one by one, putting the stars back again. Today, the Church commemorates the Feast of St. Barnabas, a great source of encouragement that urges us to encourage others.


The Holy Bible presents many characters and personalities who assume significant importance by virtue of their words and deeds. However, some remain in the background yet are strong and powerful. One such person is St Barnabas, whose feast we celebrate today. Barnabas means "the Son of Encouragement" in Greek. True to his name, St Barnabas lived a life of encouragement. 


A Christ-Centered Life

St Barnabas provides many practical examples of how to live a Christ-centered life. I want to highlight a few areas in which St Barnabas encouraged our practical Christian lives.

Barnabas was from the tribe of Levi (Acts 4:36). In addition to religious duties, Levites also had political responsibilities for the Israelites. The Levites were very devoted to a strict Jewish system. But Barnabas broke free from the strict religious system to embrace Christianity, all out of love for Christ and the Church. 

"Barnabas, originally from Cyprus in Turkey, became a missionary and worked in Jerusalem and other distant places. He transcended cultures and locations, transcending his own cultural, linguistic, and ethnic boundaries for the love of Jesus. When the early Church needed help, Barnabas sold his field and donated the proceeds to the Apostles (Acts 4:37). He was sensitive to the Church's needs and willing to give of himself, all for the love of Jesus and His Church.


Fearlessly Preaching Jesus

After his dramatic conversion, St. Paul was initially not accepted by the Early Church due to his past atrocities (Acts 9:26). However, Barnabas took the lead in helping Paul become part of the preaching ministry. We find in the Acts of the Apostles, that Barnabas took and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul, on his journey, had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him and how, in Damascus, he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:27). During St. Paul's early struggles, Barnabas supported and encouraged him for the sake of Jesus and His Church. 

He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24). While he played second fiddle to St. Paul in his missionary endeavors, he was happy to remain humble and meek—all for the Love of Jesus and His Church.  

We encounter many broken, dejected, sad, and hopeless people in life. Many feel like "the stars have fallen out of their skies." Can we encourage, console, and strengthen them by helping to put back the stars in their lives, one by one? We are invited and encouraged by St. Barnabas. Would we be willing to be a Child of Encouragement? Happy Feast of the "Apostle of Encouragement!" 


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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.

Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.