Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

Reading 1 (Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3)

In those days a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
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.

Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers:
Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger,
Lucius of Cyrene,
Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
"Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them."
Then, completing their fasting and prayer,
they laid hands on them and sent them off.

Gospel (Mt 5:1-12)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Let co-operate with each other in preaching of the Good News.

            There are many obstacles which prevent the preaching of the Gospel such as: fame, honor, money, partiality, fear and party. These obstacles suffocate the Gospel, prevent God’s kingdom to come, cause difficulties for the Church in arranging personnels, cause scandals for the faithful and destroy the ideal goal of Christ’s disciples.

            Today readings provide us necessary understanding to avoid all obstacless that prevent the mission of preaching the Good News. In the first reading, the author of the Acts reported the reasons for the growing of the church at Antioch in Syria which were God’s blessing, the Church’s administration and the contributions of many faithfuls. While this local church was blooming, the Church, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, sent Barnabas and Paul away to preach the Good News for the Gentiles. In the Gospel, Jesus sent out his disciples to preach the Good News with two very important advices: They must trust in God’s providence and can’t use the Gospel to acquire material gains. He gave them a reason for these advices, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Jesus’ disciples must learn to live a simple life.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

1.1/ The establishment of the church at Antioch: After St. Stephen’s martyr, the church in Jerusalem was heavily persecuted. Jesus’ disciples must be scattered everywhere; wherever they went they preached the Good News. Peter went down to Joppa; the deacon Philip went down to Gaza; some disciples from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch in Syria to preach the Good News for the Greek there (Acts 11:20).

            (1) The church of Antioch was well established by many contributors: First and foremost is God’s providence. Due to the persecution happened in Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples must be scattered around and some of them came to Antioch to preach the Good News. Secondly, it is God’s grace at work in human minds. Today passage clearly indicated the reason for first believers at Antioch, “The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” The disciples are only instruments which God uses for preaching, the enlightenment and the conversion are God’s work from inside the believers. Next, it is the Church’s administration. When the Church of Jerusalem heard the news of the local church, she sent Barnabas to Antioch. His name, Bar-nabas, means “the son of consolation.” He had a special gift of consoling people. When Barnabas came to Antioch and recognized God’s grace on people, “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.” Next, it is Paul’s contribution. The author reported, “Then Barnabas 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.” Finally, the church at Antioch was helped by other preachers as the Acts reported: “There were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

            (2) Disputes among people: A review of the establishment of the church at Antioch should help us to avoid conflicts among preachers and between preachers and the faithful. Many pastors think that they are the reason for their faithful’s advance and piety. They forget about God’s grace and the contribution of many preachers who helped to form the faithful before them. Many faithful think that the reason for their parish’s advance belongs to this priest or that priest; this leads them to take side and to cause division. The case like this happened in many churches; for example, in the early church of Corinth. St. Paul clearly corrected his faithful, “For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely men?  What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building” (1 Cor 3:4-9).

1.2/ Paul and Barnabas’ special mission: Even though Barnabas, Paul and the church at Antioch were advancing as such, they were still ready to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The author reported this obedience as follows: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.”

            A Jesus’ disciple must always ready to be sent to new place for the preaching of the Good News. Paul and Barnabas weren’t hung on to the established church of Antioch; they were ready to be on the way to do the mission which the Holy Spirit and the Church confidently gave it to them. The faithful of Antioch had the same attitude, they let them go to a new mission without any complaining or threatening because they believed in God’s providence.

2/ Gospel: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

2.1/ Jesus knew what is necessary for his disciples to have. First of all, they must preach “The kingdom is at hand.” A preacher must know Scripture in order to preach them to people. Secondly, they must have God’s power to heal people. Jesus commanded his disciples, “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.”

            A preacher can’t use the Gospel to acquire material gains, as Jesus gave the reason, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” He said more directly the second time: “Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts.” He must live a simple life and trust in God’s providence: “No sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.” Jesus didn’t say that a preacher couldn’t get pay because he said, “The laborer deserves his keep.” He expected the faithful to provide for their preacher the basic needs.

2.2/ The preacher’s manner at the preaching place: Jesus advised his disciples to find a place to dwell in the worthy person’ house, “Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave.” He didn’t want them to wander from place to place. The reason might be fearing of distraction or division.

            A preacher bring God’s peace for those who welcome it. Jesus continued to advised his disciples: ''As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.''

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must be courageous to put away all things that prevent an effective preaching of the Good News, so that we can co-operate with all of God’s faithful in making His kingdom to come.

            - “Paul sows, Apollo waters and God gives its growth.” We shouldn’t steal God’s blessings and others’ contribution.

            - A simple life and an absolute trust in God’s providence shall help us to fulfill our mission of preaching the Good News and deservedly live as Christ’s disciples.

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