Today is the Feast of St. Barnabas. I have never really known that much about him, even though we read of him in the Book of Acts. I love the way the commentator described Barnabas, as giving Paul a second chance after folks didn’t trust him…remembering what he had done in his persecutions. Barnabas reached out and welcomed Paul…and invited others to come see and hear him. And, he’s described as this “son of encouragement,” that is such a wonderful image.
I love this section out of Psalm 67, one of the Psalms appointed for Barnabas:
1 May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
2 Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.
I have always loved this piece of the versicles we say in the Daily Office, hearing the two portions resonate off each other from the sides of the chapel in Sewanee.
These verses are a wonderful prayer for us today, as we see ourselves surrounded by wars, conflicts, and violence….and we reach out in prayer, asking God to be with us. We yearn for God’s “ways to be known on earth.” And, there’s this wonderful image of salvation here. We may have this narrow view of salvation, that it is for when we “go to heaven.” We may have this framework of “being saved,” but the texts actually show us something much deeper, much more profound: that there is a wholeness, a “saving health,” that flows over us in our present world. This is its root meaning: salvation: “wholeness and health.” And that is meant to be experienced–at least partly–now, in this life, in our practice of faith.