10 June 2015

Thanksgiving to God for His Servant, St. Barnabas

Praise Christ, give thanks to God, and bless His holy Name for the gift of His servant, Barnabas: who supported the Apostles and the Church in Jerusalem, Antioch, and elsewhere, among both Jews and Greeks; who welcomed and supported St. Paul and served with him at the vanguard of the Gentile mission; who supported and assisted St. Mark and so encouraged that holy Evangelist from whose hand we have received the Gospel.  In addition to all of that, the same St. Barnabas was himself called and sent as a minister of the Word, a pastor and teacher of the Lord’s Church.

Learn from his example and be encouraged in your own vocation and stations in life.  For he was a Levite in deed and in truth, whose own body and life were dedicated to the service of the Lord.

He was born Joseph, from the island of Cyprus, but the Apostles called him “Barnabas,” that is, the son of encouragement, because of his generous assistance and support.  To begin with, he sold his property and gave it to the Apostles for the benefit of the Church, and then he devoted himself entirely to the Ministry of the Gospel and the care of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Indeed, Barnabas exemplified, taught, and encouraged Christian charity, as in the case of Antioch where he gathered contributions for the brethren in Judea in the midst of a worldwide famine — not unlike his Old Testament namesake, Joseph, who provided for Israel and his sons and many others from the storehouses of Egypt.

You also, then, live your life as a true priest of God in Christ, in whom you have been baptized, and by whom you have received the new name of “Christian.”

Repent of all that is contrary to faith and love.  Turn your heart away from worldly wealth and the false wisdom of fallen man, and find your treasure and true inheritance in the Church of God.  Set aside all pride and selfishness in order to serve and support and encourage your neighbors, your brothers and sisters in Christ, and His Church and Ministry, all for the sake of His Holy Gospel.

You don’t have to sell your house or quit your job, but do go about your work and live your life in faith and love.  Find your identity, place, and purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His free and full forgiveness of your sins.  And in such confidence, pour yourself out in love for your neighbor, forgiving his sins against you and giving him life with whatever means the Lord has given you.

Do not despair or become discouraged where you have fallen short and failed in faith and love.  But repent of your sins and return to the Lord your God.  Where you have done wrong, cease and desist, and make amends wherever you are able.  And where you have neglected to do your duty and the good that you should, begin now to live according to God’s Word within your calling.

Consider again the way that St. Barnabas received and supported both St. Paul and St. Mark, and be encouraged by the same grace of God: Not only by the example of that good man, but by the word and work of those who, by the Holy Spirit, follow in his footsteps within the apostolic office.

Take to heart that Christ the Lord, your great God and Savior in the flesh, deals with you by the Ministry of His Gospel, by the ways and means of those men whom He has called and set apart for Himself and sent in His Name to preach and teach and catechize and forgive.  In receiving them, you receive the Lord Jesus Himself and His forgiveness of all your sins.

That is why St. Barnabas served and supported the apostolic Church and Ministry with his time, treasures, and talents, and why you are called to do the same in proportion as the Lord has enabled you: For the blessing and benefit of others, yes, but also for your own benefit and blessing in the preaching of Christ Jesus.

Hear, then, the new song of the Gospel, and behold by faith the new thing that God has done for you in Christ: Your sins are all forgiven, and you are daily raised up as a new creation in Him.  For the Lord who made the heavens and the earth has dealt decisively with sin and death by the Cross and Passion of Christ Jesus, and has made all things new in His Resurrection from the dead.

The same Lord bestows His Spirit upon you and breathes anew the Breath of Life into your body and soul through one and the same Holy Gospel of Christ Jesus, your Savior, which St. Barnabas also preached and administered in his day (and helped St. Paul to proclaim and St. Mark to write).

So it is that you are here on this night to receive these good tidings and these good gifts of Christ, to stand in the presence of God and kneel at His Altar, and to sing the praises of His Holy Name.  For His Name is everlasting, and Christ is given as a New Covenant to you in His Body and His Blood, and He shows compassion to you who are called to be His very own, both now and forever.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

No comments: