Monday June 11, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Acts 11:21 -26, 13:1-3) Gospel (St. Matthew 10:7-13)
Today, as we celebrate the feast of Saint Barnabas, we have a little bit of insight into the personality of the man, about his goodness. We hear, for instance, that he was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit; but, beyond that, on the natural level you can see where grace builds on nature when we hear that he went off to Antioch first because the apostles heard of the things that were happening there. Then, he went to find Saul. He went on a trip to Tarsus to find this new convert. Remember, at that point, nobody really wanted anything to do with Saul because this is the man who had been out killing the Christians. Even though he had converted, everyone was still afraid of him. But Barnabas, making an act of faith and trust in God, went out to find him. We see that God sets the two of them apart to send them on other missionary journeys. We see the kind of faith he had: He was literally willing to drop everything. That is why we have the Gospel reading that we had today. As Our Lord sends His disciples out and tells them: "Do not take anything with you. Just trust and go." That is exactly what Barnabas did. He was willing to leave from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then, He was willing to leave from Antioch back to find a man who may have killed him. With Saint Paul, he was willing to travel on missionary journeys.
We can look at this for ourselves and realize that God may not be asking us to go on missionary journeys. But He is asking of us the same kind of faith, the same kind of trust. Each one of us is filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was poured forth into our hearts on the day we were baptized, and, even more, on the day we were confirmed. Unfortunately, what happens too often is that many Christian people keep the Holy Spirit at bay. We keep Him at an arm's distance, we do not want to listen to His voice because He might actually tell us something like He told Barnabas: "Pack it up and go. Go and find this person. Go and preach the Good News. Go and live the faith. Trust and be a person of faith and encouragement." We get a little nervous when we think about that.
Sometimes, we would prefer not to hear it, which is a pretty sad thing. If that is the case, we become like the people of Israel when they gathered around Mount Sinai. They heard the voice of God and they all backed away, saying to Moses, "We do not want to hear the voice of God anymore. You talk to Him and then tell us what He said." Are we no different from that, if we are not willing to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking within our own hearts? We do not want to hear the voice of God because we are afraid that what he might ask us to do, we might not want to do.
We always need to remember that God's Will is perfect. Always remember: He only wants the best. Therefore, if we think that we do not want to do His Will, what we are saying is: "I do not really want to do what is the best for myself because I do not want to do what God wants me to do." That is what it really comes down to. We usually do not think of it that way. It does not always look like a good idea to us, so we push it away. But if we stop and realize that this is what is truly the best, then we are pushing God away and we are telling God that we know better than He does. That is where that trust has to come from.
Our Lord sent His disciples out with no money, no change of clothes, knowing not where they were going - they were just going out and they had to trust totally in the Lord, and so do we. Even if we have a home, a family, and a job, we still have to trust totally in the Lord. We cannot count on the money, we cannot count on the job, we cannot count on anything else; we must trust in the Lord who has provided all those things and will continue to provide in the way that will be the best. If He takes one thing away, it is to provide another. That is where our faith has to be. We can learn from Barnabas, the son of encouragement today, to be encouraged in the Lord; and, above all, to be encouraged to listen to the voice of the Lord and not be afraid, because God only wants for each one of us what is the very best.
Note: Father Altier does not prepare his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.