Though not one of the Twelve, St. Barnabas is considered an Apostle by the Church. He was a Jew of the tribe of Levi, but born in Cyprus, where the family settled. His success in preaching promoted the Apostles to change his name of Joseph to that of Barnabas—which means “son of exhortation” or “consolation”. He also was noted for his generosity in the early Christian community of Jerusalem (Act 4:36-37).
It was St. Barnabas who befriended the recently converted and former persecutor of the Church, Saul of tarsus, and set him on the path to becoming the great Apostle Paul by introducing him to the Apostles (Act 9:27). When St. Barnabas went to Antioch to consolidate the infant Church there, he asked St. Paul to share his labors. After laboring a year at Antioch, the two Apostles brought the offerings of the community to the famine-stricken poor of the Judean community (Acts 11:27-30).
Together with St. Paul, Barnabas preached the faith in Cyprus and central Asia (Acts 13-14) and attended the First Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29). But on their return to Antioch they parted company when St. Barnabas wanted his nephew John Mark to accompany them on their second missionary journey while St. Paul did not (Acts 15:30-40); accordingly, St. Barnabas went back to Cyprus with John Mark. The subsequent events of the life of St. Barnabas are not know for certain, except that he was known to the Corinthians (1 Cor 9:6). A tradition relates that he died at Salamis in Cyprus, after being stoned.
PRAYER: God, You commanded that St. Barnabas, who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit, should be set apart to labor for the conversion of the Gentiles. May Christ’s Gospel, which he preached with great ardor, continue to be preached faithfully by word and deed. Amen.