"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 11:22
St Barnabas is best known as a companion to Paul on Paul's missionary journeys, especially to the Gentiles, but it seems fair to presume that Barnabas was more than a companion. Since we know that Paul was not immune to sending weaker companions home when they could not speak or live the Gospel with the fierceness he expected, he needed a Barnabas, someone with whom he could speak intimately, a friend who could help him negotiate the more fiery side of his personality.
A scripture professor of mine used to remind his students that St Paul had enough "shoulds" for everyone, that there was no need to add any more prohibitions and warnings to Christian dogma since Paul's style was so straightforward and agitational. Barnabas would have been the one friend who could calm Paul down and remind him that Jesus was compassionate as well as challenging.
Almost all of us need someone to help us integrate the shadow side of our personality. If we are naturally given to quiet and prayer, we need friends who remind us that the Gospel also calls us to announce the Good News of Justice and Peace. If we tend to be overbearing and judgmental, we need friends who help us soften these natural inclinations. Whenever we are trying to let God open us to the person God needs us to be, it is important to allow others to see us through a different lens and point us in a direction we might naturally resist.
Today, pray to allow a "Barnabas" to enter your life and help you live the whole Gospel.
Who or what has helped you see the fullness of the Gospel life?