From the Word of the Day
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
(Acts 11: 22-24)
The first Christian community found it hard to evaluate the fact that there were very distant Christian communities, for example at Antioch, that were inspired to live as they did but had their own life. This was the result of the persecutions when few could remain in Jerusalem, so they escaped and went into other areas. As always, the community in Jerusalem considered themselves the chosen ones, the best. They were attached to one way of doing things as in the time of the Babylonian captivity. Then as now, they are forced to understand that the criteria to evaluate the authenticity of an experience of God have changed.
Barnabas is a trustworthy disciple. He is known to the primitive Church of Jerusalem as being wise and balanced. He is from Cyprus and therefore can understand other ways. He had shown himself faithful to the first Christian community and he had even sold his goods for it. He is sent to visit the Antioch community; both the old residents and those newly arrived due to the persecutions after the death of Jesus.
Barnabas’ experience and evaluation are very positive. The grace of God is working and asks for fidelity, fidelity to the Spirit who is bringing new life to Antioch as well.
Lord, how much honesty is needed to recognize the good, not the good we do, but that comes about without us. Fidelity sometimes means breaking with rules until now considered the only right ones and recognize others that Your grace and the Holy Spirit arouse, inspire and sustain. We humbly give You our rigidity, our attachment to truths that do not come from You.
The Voice of Bruno Maggioni, Theologian
God’s true friends enjoy the liberality of the Spirit and recognize His manifestations wherever they occur. They recognize the good wherever it is done and they enjoy it.