Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3 / Matthew 10:7-13
Today we remember and honour one of the great figures of the New Testament, and he featured much in the Acts of the Apostles - St. Barnabas.
The name "Barnabas" means "son of encouragement" and from the snippet in the 1st reading, we can already see that he lived up to his name.
Furthermore he did what was unexpected and even unthinkable - he went to Tarsus to look for Saul (later to be known as Paul) and he found him and brought him to Antioch to build the church there.
What's the big deal about that, we may ask. Saul, as we know, had earlier persecuted the Church. He was there at the stoning of St. Stephen. He caught many Christians and sent them to prison and most likely to their death also. Then on the road to Damascus, he had a mystical encounter with the Lord Jesus and things changed for him.
But not for the Christians. They cannot trust such a man who had the blood of Christians in his hands.
But St. Barnabas dared to approach Saul and to trust. Such trust required a love that can only be from God. St. Barnabas trusted Jesus who had changed Saul on the road to Damascus.
And with that trust in Jesus, St. Barnabas trusted Saul and encouraged him to work with him in the spreading of the Good News.
So there are people out there who are just waiting to be encouraged. They may be categorized as "unexpected" and even "unthinkable" to be called upon to do any good work.
But just as Jesus pointed out Saul to St. Barnabas, let us pray that we will be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to those whom Jesus is pointing out to us.
And then let us go and give them some encouragement. That's how the Good News is spread.