Friday, June 10, 2022

St. Barnabas June 11

  "Consequently, it is not the fact that we have never erred but our capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness which makes us saints"

Back in the day, Pope Benedict used his General Audience talks to teach us about various figures in church history, beginning with the apostles. At the time, Catholic publishers gathered these talks into bound volumes. When OSV did this, they asked me to do a couple of study guides.

This particular book isn't in print any more, but of course, all the talks are available for free online.


I maintain that these talks on both the Apostles and the Latin and Greek Fathers would be great parish adult religious education resources - if you agree, feel free to download and reprint the study guide.

You can access it through this link.

Below are the two pages from the guide with suggested study and reflection questions for the unit that includes the talk on St. Barnabas.

The study guide on The Fathers is available through this link.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from his 2007 General Audience on St. Barnabas


Together with Paul, he then went to the so-called Council of Jerusalem where after a profound examination of the question, the Apostles with the Elders decided to discontinue the practice of circumcision so that it was no longer a feature of the Christian identity (cf. Acts 15: 1-35). It was only in this way that, in the end, they officially made possible the Church of the Gentiles, a Church without circumcision; we are children of Abraham simply through faith in Christ.

The two, Paul and Barnabas, disagreed at the beginning of the second missionary journey because Barnabas was determined to take with them as a companion John called Mark, whereas Paul was against it, since the young man had deserted them during their previous journey (cf. Acts 13: 13; 15: 36-40).

Hence there are also disputes, disagreements and controversies among saints. And I find this very comforting, because we see that the saints have not "fallen from Heaven". They are people like us, who also have complicated problems.

Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness.

So it was that Paul, who had been somewhat harsh and bitter with regard to Mark, in the end found himself with him once again. In St Paul's last Letters, to Philemon and in his Second Letter to Timothy, Mark actually appears as one of his "fellow workers".

Consequently, it is not the fact that we have never erred but our capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness which makes us saints. And we can all learn this way of holiness.