“A good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” *
Today the Episcopal Church observes the feast day of St. Barnabas, the early Christian fondly nicknamed Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:37). He befriended Saul of Tarsus after his conversion and introduced him to the skeptical leaders back in Jerusalem: “But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:27)
After that he and Paul (formerly Saul) undertook several missionary journeys together.
Eventually the two disagreed about whether to take Barnabas’ cousin/nephew John Mark, whom Paul thought was a quitter, on another trip. The dispute ended with Paul taking Silas as his companion and journeying through Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas took John Mark to visit Cyprus.
You see, even back then, church people were arguing and separating and going off in a huff. Why should we be surprised when this happens today?
I always liked old Barnabas. I’m sure he had to put up with a lot from Paul, who wasn’t always the easiest person/apostle to get along with. I always thought it was sad that their friendship ended the way it did. I’m sure we can all take a lesson from it.
St. Barnabas, with John his sister’s son,
Set sail for Cyprus; leaving in their wake
That chosen Vessel, who for Jesus’ sake
Proclaimed the Gentiles and the Jews at one.
Divided while united, each must run
His mighty course not hell should overtake;
And pressing toward the mark must own the ache
Of love, and sigh for heaven not yet begun.
For saints in life-long exile yearn to touch
Warm human hands, and commune face to face;
But these we know not ever met again:
Yet once St. Paul at distance overmuch
Just sighted Cyprus; and once more in vain
Neared it and passed;–not there his landing-place.