St Barnabas

Apostle (entered heaven in the first century)

Dear Barney,

I hope this note finds you.  I don’t know if you will have email there in the summer missions.  I must say I was edified when my sister informed me that you had decided to spend your summer catechizing the Indians in Peru instead of interning at Brinks and Lefferts on Wall Street.  Finally – I thought to myself – one of my nephews has gotten a dose of good sense: investing in eternity and not in futility. I would advise you to start up a spiritual dialogue with your namesake and patron, St Barnabas (I would have offered up my Mass for you today on St Barnabas’s Memorial if I were allowed to attend Mass; as it is, you’ll have to settle for one or two spiritual communions).  Not officially an “apostle,” the early Fathers nevertheless called Barnabas by that title because of his close association to the Apostles’ work and his influential role in the early Church as St Paul’s defender and traveling companion. Together they initiated the spreading of the gospel to the gentiles (that’s us, by the way), and endured horrible hardships (getting stoned [with stones, not with joints], beaten, and shipwrecked, for instance) in order to advance the Kingdom of Christ.  But nothing could slow them down, nothing could deter them, nothing allowed them to sink back into self-pity and discouragement once they had tasted the sweetness of God’s love.

I don’t know how things are in Peru, but I do know that if you are taking your missionary commitment seriously, you will be running into plenty of difficulties – both physical and spiritual.  When you do, call to mind the long chain of saints who have served Christ in the missions before you, ask for their prayers, and fight on. Fight ever on, my dear nephew, and save your vacation for heaven.

God bless, Uncle Eddy

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