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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

St. Barnabas on the New Law of the Lord

Christ teaching the Apostles

The New Law of the Lord
A Letter attributed to St. Barnabas

God has abolished the sacrifices of the old law so that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ imposes no yoke of coercion and its sacrifice is not one made by man. In another place he says to them, Did I command your fathers when they came out of the land of Egypt to offer me burnt offerings and sacrifices? No, but I commanded them this: “Let none of you cherish any evil in his heart against his neighbour, and let none of you be fond of breaking vows.” 

If we have any sense then we will understand the loving intention of our Father. He wants us not to err as these people did but to seek how we may make our offering to him. And he tells us: the sacrifice for the Lord is a contrite heart, a heart that glorifies its Maker is a sweet savour to the Lord.

My brethren, we must look closely
into the matter of our salvation
so that the Evil One does not slyly
enter our hearts and drag us away
from the life that lies before us.


God also says to them, Why are you keeping a fast for me and filling this day with your whinings? I have not decreed this fast, says the Lord, nor this humiliation of man’s soul.  Turning to us, he says Here is the fast I decree: relax your iniquitous restrictions, loosen the shackles of your oppressive contracts, let your ruined debtors go free and teat up your unjust agreements. Break your bread and give it to the hungry, if you see a man without clothing, give him clothes of your own. If you see one who is homeless, bring him into your own house.

Let us flee from all vanity, let us hold in aversion the Way of Wickedness and its works.
Do not withdraw into solitude as if you were already considered righteous,
but come together and seek out the common good.

For Scripture says: Woe betide those who are wise in their own eyes and knowledgeable in their own sight. Let us be men of the Spirit, let us be a temple consecrated to God. As far as we can, let us devote ourselves to living in the fear of God, and let us strive to keep his commandments so that his ordinances become our delight.
When the Lord judges the world he will have no favourites:
each will receive according to his deeds.

If he is good then his righteousness will lead him forward; if he is evil then the reward of iniquity will be in front of him.

Let us never complacently think of ourselves as ‘called’, let us never doze in our sinfulness, or the Prince of Evil may gain power over us and thrust us out from the Kingdom of the Lord. And consider this also, my brethren, you see what great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel and yet in the end they were finally abandoned –

let us be very careful not to be among those of whom it was written

that many are called but few are chosen.


About Saint Barnabas 

St. Barnabas


Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, comes as close as anyone outside the Twelve to being a full-fledged apostle. He was closely associated with St. Paul (he introduced Paul to Peter and the other apostles) and served as a kind of mediator between the former persecutor and the still suspicious Jewish Christians.

When a Christian community developed at Antioch, Barnabas was sent as the official representative of the Church of Jerusalem to incorporate them into the fold. He and Paul instructed in Antioch for a year, after which they took relief contributions to Jerusalem.
Later, Paul and Barnabas, now clearly seen as charismatic leaders, were sent by Antioch officials to preach to the Gentiles. Enormous success crowned their efforts. After a miracle at Lystra, the people wanted to offer sacrifice to them as gods—Barnabas being Zeus, and Paul, Hermes—but the two said, “We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God” (see Acts 14:8-18).
But all was not peaceful. They were expelled from one town, they had to go to Jerusalem to clear up the ever-recurring controversy about circumcision and even the best of friends can have differences. When Paul wanted to revisit the places they had evangelized, Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark, his cousin, author of the Gospel (April 25), but Paul insisted that, since Mark had deserted them once, he was not fit to take along now. The disagreement that followed was so sharp that Barnabas and Paul separated, Barnabas taking Mark to Cyprus, Paul taking Silas to Syria. Later, they were reconciled—Paul, Barnabas and Mark.
When Paul stood up to Peter for not eating with Gentiles for fear of his Jewish friends, we learn that “even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy” (see Galatians 2:1-13).



Story:

Barnabas is mentioned by name as one of the generous members of the idyllic and extremely poor Church in Jerusalem: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. . . . There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
"Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated 'son of encouragement.), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a pieace of property that he owned, then broguht the moeny and put it at the feet of the apostles" (Acts 4:32, 34-37).


Comment:

Barnabas is spoken of simply as one who dedicated his life to the Lord. He was a man "filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thereby large numbers were added to the Lord." Even when he and Paul were expelled from Antioch in Pisidia (modern-day Turkey), they were "filled with joy and the Holy Spirit."
http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1411