“So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.” (Mark 6:12)
Because Jesus chose to give us names of the apostles that we may identify with these ordinary people we look at Barnabas. Who the heck is Barnabas? He was a Jew from the tribe of Levi, who had converted to Christianity. According to Acts 4:36-37, Barnabas sold his field and gave the money to the apostles, so that they could distribute the money to the poor. Later, Barnabas was sent to Antioch to oversee the congregation that had been planted there (Acts 11:19-26). He worked with Paul in Antioch and then traveled with Paul during his first missionary journey. Barnabas also defended the freedom of the Gospel at the Council of Jerusalem.
God loves to achieve His goals through human beings. When Barnabas was a regular Christian, God used his generosity to help hungry Christians suffering in Jerusalem. Then, when Barnabas became a minister of the Church, God used his preaching to grow the congregation in Antioch and to plant other churches in other towns.
When you go to the Divine Service, God will use an ordinary man to absolve you, to teach you, to rebuke you, to encourage you, to give you the abundant life found in the Body and Blood of Christ, and to bless you with God’s Name. Then you will leave the Divine Service. You will partake in the life of the congregation, interacting with your brothers and sisters. You will serve others in your vocations. God will use your generosity and kindness to bless those around you.
This is the life of the Christian: receiving from a man’s hand the blessings of God, and then becoming that hand of God that distributes blessings to others.
Almighty God, Your faithful servant Barnabas sought not his own renown but gave generously of his life and substance for the encouragement of the apostles and their ministry. Grant that we may follow his example in lives given to charity and the proclamation of the Gospel; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Feast of St. Barnabas)