“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
Saint Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, was not one of the original Twelve, but is honored as an apostle because of his work of evangelization in the early Church. He was closely associated with Saint Paul (he introduced Paul to Peter and the other apostles) and served as a kind of mediator between Paul, formerly a persecutor of Christians, 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 taught in Antioch for a year, after which they took relief contributions to Jerusalem.
We see in today’s first reading that Saints Paul and Barnabas had become accepted in the community as charismatic leaders who led many to convert to Christianity. The Holy Spirit set them apart for Apostolic work and blessed their efforts with great success.
Above all, these men hungered and thirsted for righteousness, a righteousness not based on the law or any merely human precept, but instead on a right relationship with God. Just as they led many people then to that kind of relationship with God through their words and actions, so their witness calls us to follow that same kind of right relationship today.
As we celebrate the Eucharist today, we might follow their call to righteousness by examining our lives in light of the Beatitudes. How willing are we to enter into poverty of spirit, work for peace and justice and pursue righteousness? Blessed are we who follow the example of Saint Barnabas and blessed are we who benefit from his intercession.