Thursday, June 11, 2015


Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

By Beth DeCristofaro

When (Barnabas) 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.  (Acts 11:23-24)

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Sanctify with your blessings, we pray, O Lord, the offerings we make of our lives, so that by your grace they may set us on fire with the flame of your love, by which St. Barnabas brought the light of the Gospel to the nations.  Through Christ our Lord.  (taken from the Prayer over the Offerings of the Mass for the Day)

Learning to drive a car was nerve wracking and funny for me.  Funny when our instructor, a coach with JEB Stuart High School’s football team, placed his coffee mug up on the dashboard and told the first student behind the wheel that if his coffee spilled then she would fail the course.  However, we then drove on the newly constructed Beltway where speeds were already intimidatingly fast for a newbie behind the wheel of a standard transmission Dodge.  A slogan I learned then and I passed on to my children in turn was: “It’s better to be safe than to be right.”  We were taught defensive driving which called for alertness and courtesy.  Knowing the right thing to do was essential but so was “keeping the peace” (so to speak) in order to develop a safe driving practice.

Jesus’ tells us to be reconciled with your brother.  He intends much more than avoiding danger and keeping the peace.  Jesus wants us to be in communion with him and with our brothers and sisters.  Jesus’ redemptive gift is enacted in the Eucharist.  We are invited to put on Jesus and partake.  We cannot do this with divided heart.  The humiliation of slowing down and letting a car cut you off for safety sake is not at all the humility which expands our hearts to receive Jesus, makes room for our brothers and sisters and lifts us to reach out as disciples in the world. 

It’s “better to be Barnabas” who rejoiced, encouraging and even calling on others (Saul) to bring the community of Gentiles more firmly together.  “It’s better to be Jesus than to be right.”  With whom do I need to reconcile?  In “being right” or “being wronged”, how am I keeping myself from full communion with my community and my Savior?  Give it up in reconciliation and reunion.  Just as driving safely and effectively takes years of practice, being Jesus takes years of putting ourselves at the service of Jesus and accepting the graces bestowed by the Spirit rather than calling all our own shots. 

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