Saint Barnabas, Apostle
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)
Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3; Psalm 98:1-6;Matthew 5:17-19
The film Stand and Deliver is based on the story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher in the troubled Los Angeles, California, public school system. While most don’t believe in the students’ abilities, Escalante does. Using innovative techniques, he teaches his students more than just math basics. He challenges them to excel, and they do: they pass California’s Advanced Placement Calculus exam—difficult for students of any age!
Jesus also spoke about having high expectations. He told his disciples, “Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). What’s more, pairing today’s Gospel reading with the story of St. Barnabas’ extreme generosity only adds to the impression that Jesus has set impossibly high goals for us.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Remember, it was Jesus who pointed out the hypocrisy of those scribes and Pharisees who set too-high standards for everyone but didn’t try to measure up themselves. Jesus is not trying to make it impossible for us to enter his kingdom. He’s telling us that we really are capable of heroic holiness!
Yes, God does expect great things of us. But that’s because he sees great things within us. He sees his image and likeness. He sees his own Holy Spirit. He even sees the faith and love in our hearts that we haven’t found yet! He knows we can do better than just “qualify” for eternal life—because he has poured so much grace into us.
Do you see your potential today—not just to be good but to be great? Try taking a “spiritual inventory” today in prayer. Make a list of all the good qualities God has placed in you. Make a list, too, of your dreams and hopes. Tell yourself that you can be a hero of the faith. Tell yourself that no sin is too great, no fear too daunting, to keep you back. You can become a saint like Barnabas—if you stay close to the Lord and follow him one step at a time. Together with Jesus, you can pass any test of faith!
“Lord, free my heart to follow you with abandonment. I want to fulfill your plans for my life!”~WAU