Saints share their gifts; they also recognize the gifts of others. That’s what St. Barnabas did. He was a gifted teacher of the Gospel; he also recognized the gift of Paul of Tarsus. His feast is June 11.
After his dramatic conversion on the way to Damascus, Paul preached the gospel in Damascus and then in Jerusalem, but his past caused some in Jerusalem to be suspicious of him. “They were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.”
“Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how on the way he had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9, 25-27) Barnabas recognized the grace of God in Saul.
Then, as gentiles in Antioch became increasingly interested in the gospel, the leaders of the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to see what to do. “When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” (Acts 11,23-26)
Barnabas recognized Paul’s gifts once again and sought him out to bring the gospel to the gentiles. Previously, the Apostle Peter encountered the gentile Cornelius in Ceasaria Maritima and baptized him and his friends. Now, Barnabas chooses Paul to come to Antioch, and the two embark on a mission to the gentiles. The Acts of the Apostles refer first to “Barnabas and Saul”, then gradually it becomes “Paul and Barnabas.”
Paul emerged as a gifted apostle. The Acts of the Apostles follows him all the way to Rome. Barnabas is hardly mentioned at all.
But Barnabas first recognized Paul and his gifts.
I remember Fr. Bausch speaking of Barnabas as “the encourager” and I always think of that when I hear his name.