When he arrived and saw the grace of God . . .
St. Barnabas, one of the earliest missionaries, had many gifts, but one of his most valuable gifts was the ability to “see” what God was doing and to encourage it.
Think about how Barnabas was able to welcome Paul into the community of believers after his conversion (Acts 9:27). He “saw” what God had done in this former persecutor and chose to accept Paul in spite of his past. Again, when he went to Antioch, he “saw” what God was doing in bringing Jewish and Gentile Christians together (11:23). He could have just said, “That’s great,” and returned to Jerusalem, but his recognition of God’s grace compelled him to find Paul so that they could stay and teach there.
A few years later, Barnabas and Paul actually split up over a disagreement about another missionary, John Mark. Barnabas saw John Mark’s potential, even though this younger disciple had deserted them on an earlier mission trip (Acts 15:37-40). Paul didn’t want to keep working with John Mark, so Barnabas took him under his wing. Not only did John Mark prove to be a faithful companion, but he is also thought to be the same Mark who wrote the Gospel bearing his name.
In every age of the Church, God raises up people like St. Barnabas. Think of saints who were mentored and encouraged by godly men and women: St. Ambrose and St. Augustine; St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. Think of St. John XXIII, who saw that God wanted to renew the Church and took hold of it. Countless people, known and unknown, have had a domino effect on the history of the Church.
God wants to use you too as someone who can see his grace at work and embrace it. That might mean supporting a budding ministry in your parish, giving someone a second chance, or encouraging a son or daughter to develop and use their gifts for the Lord.
We can all grow in the gift of “seeing” when we learn to look at people and situations as God sees them. Then, like Barnabas, we can act on what we see—by mentoring, encouraging, and taking the next step forward in faith.
Word Among Us