"He encouraged them all to remain firm in their commitment to the Lord, since he himself was a good man filled with the Holy Spirit and faith." —Acts 11:23-24
Joseph's name was changed to Barnabas because he was such an encouragement to the Church through his words and finances (Acts 4:37). The name "Barnabas" means "son of encouragement" (Acts 4:36). For a Jew, the name "Joseph" referred to the Joseph of the book of Genesis. He had great dreams, was sold into slavery by his brothers, and was eventually responsible for the survival of Egypt and the rest of the Middle East during a seven-year famine.
Joseph's life story was one of recovery — recovering his freedom, family, and food. Joseph was a survivor who helped everyone else survive. Barnabas was not just a survivor but a builder of the kingdom. He was not only recovering from the past but building the future. He was breaking new ground and not just maintaining the status quo. He was attacking the gates of hell (Mt 16:18, KJV) and not just playing defense. He was not only reacting in faith but acting in faith.
We likewise need a name-change. We must change from crisis intervention to evangelization, from survival to revival, and from avoiding defeat to claiming the victory. A new Church comes from people with new minds and new names.
Prayer: Father, continue to change the Simons to Peters, the Sauls to Pauls, and the Josephs to Barnabases.
Promise: "Make this announcement: 'The reign of God is at hand!' Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the leprous, expel demons." —Mt 10:7-8
Praise: St. Barnabas was "filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thereby large numbers were added to the Lord" (Acts 11:24).
Reference: (Be a Barnabas; make disciples. For a related teaching, order our tape on Making Disciples in a "Culture of Death" on audio AV 97-1 and AV 97-3 or video V-97.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 20, 2004
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