"He encouraged them all to remain firm in their commitment to the Lord." —Acts 11:23
Barnabas was sent by the church of Jerusalem to the new converts in Antioch. He was so successful in serving this church that "it was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time" (Acts 11:26). Antioch was also the first church to send out missionaries (Acts 13:3). It is one of the most important churches in the history of Christianity. Barnabas' historic success in Antioch was primarily because of his gift of encouragement (see Acts 11:23). His name was even changed from Joseph to Barnabas, meaning "son of encouragement" (Acts 4:36).
Although Barnabas was a prophet and teacher (see Acts 13:1), he used his gift of encouragement to build up the church at Antioch. "Thereby large numbers were added to the Lord" (Acts 11:24). After the church had been built up, he then spent an entire year teaching them (Acts 11:26).
Many of you want to bring renewal and evangelization to your parishes, but you feel powerless because you are not the pastor, director of religious education, or school principal. However, you can make an invaluable contribution to renewing your parish, not only by leading or teaching, but by encouraging. If you will encourage the fainthearted to persevere (1 Thes 5:14) and the strong to step out in faith, you will be a catalyst for the renewal of your parish and even for world evangelization.
Prayer: Father, use me to renew a whole parish.
Promise: "The gift you have received, give as a gift." —Mt 10:8
Praise: St. Barnabas "spoke out fearlessly" (Acts 13:46; 14:3) in spreading the gospel on the first Christian mission. He acted "in complete reliance on the Lord" (Acts 14:3).
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our leaflet, How to Renew Your Parish in 12 Years, or on audio AV 74-3 or video V-74.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 1, 2011
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