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SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Father Francis's picture
Saint Barnabas

A prominent member of the early Church in Jerusalem, the name and deeds of Saint Barnabas are well documented in the pages of Scripture.

Born on Cyprus of Greek parents, he was a contemporary of Jesus who had found his way to Palestine and was most likely numbered among the 72 disciples of the Lord. He sold his farm and donated all the money to the Church.

He was first called Joseph but became Barnabas, which means 'son of encouragement', and one of his most significant deeds was to find Paul after his conversion and encourage him to begin preaching. Without this the whole history of the Church would have been very different. They joined in many missionary journeys together before, sadly, they fell out and parted company. Later Barnabas took Mark as his companion and travelled to Cyprus where it is said he died a martyr’s death in his own homeland.

Encouragement may seem a small thing but you could say that nothing in life is more important. When was the last time you got a genuine and meaningful pat on the back? It may have been a long time ago but I am sure you remember it! Someone had the insight to appreciate your worth and went out of their way to tell you. Those moments are like water in the desert or a light in the darkness which lift the human spirit.

Encouragement is one of the greatest ministries - and I deliberately use the word ministries - in which any of us can become involved. It is something we all need and anybody can give it. You never know what difference one word of encouragement can make in a person's life, the success and happiness it can bring them, and the snowball effect it might have in the lives of others they meet.

Discouragement is one of the primary enemies of life. You must have heard the story about Satan when he decided to sell all the tools of his trade except a seemingly insignificant one. Why would he not sell it? He explained that it was the tool of discouragement. 'As long as I have that I have no need for any others. If I can discourage them they give up all hope, and then I can destroy them.' This might be a fanciful story but it has many grains of truth.

The ministry of encouragement needs an observant eye, a caring heart and a feeling for others. It is one of the greatest ministries in the world. May we like St. Barnabas be among the people who encourage.

St. Barnabas, son of encouragement, pray for us.