Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Be Called Greatest

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Minute Meditations

Ministering to Others

Feeding the poor and clothing the hungry are important ministries. But so is the ability to write a moving eulogy or devotion, compose a beautiful hymn, or paint a glorious sunset. The ways in which God gifts us with the talent to touch souls are as infinitesimal as he is.
— from Sisterhood of Saints

St. Barnabas
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Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, comes as close as anyone outside the Twelve to being a full-fledged apostle. He was closely associated with St. Paul (he introduced Paul to Peter and the other apostles) and served as a kind of mediator between the former persecutor and the still suspicious Jewish Christians.
When a Christian community developed at Antioch, Barnabas was sent as the official representative of the Church of Jerusalem to incorporate them into the fold. He and Paul instructed in Antioch for a year, after which they took relief contributions to Jerusalem.

Later, Paul and Barnabas, now clearly seen as charismatic leaders, were sent by Antioch officials to preach to the Gentiles. Enormous success crowned their efforts. After a miracle at Lystra, the people wanted to offer sacrifice to them as gods—Barnabas being Zeus, and Paul, Hermes—but the two said, "We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God" (see Acts 14:8-18).

But all was not peaceful. They were expelled from one town, they had to go to Jerusalem to clear up the ever-recurring controversy about circumcision and even the best of friends can have differences. When Paul wanted to revisit the places they had evangelized, Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark, his cousin, author of the Gospel (April 25), but Paul insisted that, since Mark had deserted them once, he was not fit to take along now. The disagreement that followed was so sharp that Barnabas and Paul separated, Barnabas taking Mark to Cyprus, Paul taking Silas to Syria. Later, they were reconciled—Paul, Barnabas and Mark.

When Paul stood up to Peter for not eating with Gentiles for fear of his Jewish friends, we learn that "even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy" (see Galatians 2:1-13).


Barnabas is mentioned by name as one of the generous members of the idyllic and extremely poor Church in Jerusalem: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. . . . There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

"Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated 'son of encouragement.), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a pieace of property that he owned, then broguht the moeny and put it at the feet of the apostles" (Acts 4:32, 34-37).


Barnabas is spoken of simply as one who dedicated his life to the Lord. He was a man "filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thereby large numbers were added to the Lord." Even when he and Paul were expelled from Antioch in Pisidia (modern-day Turkey), they were "filled with joy and the Holy Spirit."

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.


God is with me, but more,
God is within me, giving me existence.
Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence
in my body, my mind, my heart
and in the whole of my life.


God is not foreign to my freedom.
Instead the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires,
gently nudging me towards all that is good.
I ask for the grace to let myself be enfolded by the Spirit.


I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.

The Word of God

Reading 1 acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3

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.

Responsorial Psalm ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

R. (see 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Gospel mt 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."


How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way?
I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Matthew 5:17-19

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Saint Barnabas, Apostle

I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)

The film Stand and Deliver is based on the story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher in the troubled Los Angeles, California, public school system. While most don't believe in the students' abilities, Escalante does. Using innovative techniques, he teaches his students more than just math basics. He challenges them to excel, and they do: they pass California's Advanced Placement Calculus exam—difficult for students of any age!

Jesus also spoke about having high expectations. He told his disciples, "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). What's more, pairing today's Gospel reading with the story of St. Barnabas' extreme generosity only adds to the impression that Jesus has set impossibly high goals for us.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Remember, it was Jesus who pointed out the hypocrisy of those scribes and Pharisees who set too-high standards for everyone but didn't try to measure up themselves. Jesus is not trying to make it impossible for us to enter his kingdom. He's telling us that we really are capable of heroic holiness!

Yes, God does expect great things of us. But that's because he sees great things within us. He sees his image and likeness. He sees his own Holy Spirit. He even sees the faith and love in our hearts that we haven't found yet! He knows we can do better than just "qualify" for eternal life—because he has poured so much grace into us.

Do you see your potential today—not just to be good but to be great? Try taking a "spiritual inventory" today in prayer. Make a list of all the good qualities God has placed in you. Make a list, too, of your dreams and hopes. Tell yourself that you can be a hero of the faith. Tell yourself that no sin is too great, no fear too daunting, to keep you back. You can become a saint like Barnabas—if you stay close to the Lord and follow him one step at a time. Together with Jesus, you can pass any test of faith!

"Lord, free my heart to follow you with abandonment. I want to fulfill your plans for my life!"


Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3; Psalm 98:1-6

God cut me, cut my heart, make me faithful, to You, to Your Word, to Your Commandments.  If I teach, I must live what I teach, if I live, let it be for the Lord our God who is there, always has been, and always will be.  And this is true of the commandments.  We are teaching them daily, didn't you know?  We are teaching by the manner in which we live and talk.  Am I spreading gossip? Could be lies, thus breaking commandment.  Are we desiring other women or men? Thus breaking the commandment of covet of neighbor.  Suddenly, we must realize we are teaching others not to follow the commandments, the least in Heaven. Ain't going to church on Sunday?  We are teaching others not to do it either.  Don't be caught up in this mentality that "everyone can do their own thing" and think you are not responsible for others' actions when you really are.  Don't be fooled.  And if you think you are following every single commandment, read the interpretation that Jesus our Lord gives, for example (taken from CCC 2054) He unfolded all the demands of the Commandments. "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill.' . . . But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment."  So there is alot more to killing than just killing the body, but killing the soul.  We are here to build one another up, not tear down.  This is the Kingdom of God.  This is where St. Barnabas and Paul were at.  This is where we are at, at the point of being a believer or coming to be.  From CCC: The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is till bound to keep them; the Second Vatican Council confirms: "The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments."  And the CCC (Cathechims of the Catholic Church) goes on to state of our Lord: 2074 Jesus says: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."33 The fruit referred to in this saying is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, partake of his mysteries, and keep his commandments, the Savior himself comes to love, in us, his Father and his brethren, our Father and our brethren. His person becomes, through the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our activity. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."  So, if we love the Lord, He will come to love more fully in us.  The way we love the Lord is the way Christ our Lord loves the Lord.  He showed obedience, by submitting to God's will and love which was deposited in manner of commandments in the heart of man and stored in the ark, and the new ark is our Mother Mary, and so the commandments are Jesus.  When God gave them to Moses, they were given on 2 tablets. One had 3 and the other had seven.  One is the Trinity, and the Other is the Number of the Covenant.  He gives Himself forever, once again, and again.  This is a Sacrament to be dealt with.  If the first three honor God, saying not to have any other gods or idols, and never use His name in vain and to worship Him every Sabbath, the new Sabbath being the Sunday of the resurrection of the new covenant, Jesus, then these are supreme and the rest follow suit sealing the deal forever with His people.  Can I keep my end of the deal with God?  Yes you can.  The CCC (2082) ends the decalogue teachings with a very interesting line and I'll leave you with it as well, and I pray for our journey as we assist the Holy Spirit in the salvation of souls...."What God commands he makes possible by his grace."

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