If there were a Catholic version of Jeopardy there might be some questions we could ask about the Feast of St. Barnabas today, June 11. Did he die on this day? No. Were his relics brought to some church on this day? No. We celebrate his feast today because he’s a key figure in the Post Pentecostal church. He tells us something about the leadership of that church, especially, and also about church leaders today.
Leaders can disagree.
Barnabas and Paul were missionaries together, but a sharp disagreement occurred between them and they went their separate ways. (Acts 15, 36-41) Will disagreement always occur among Christian leaders?
Today the US Catholic bishops meet in Baltimore to deal with the crisis of sex abuse in our church. They agree the issue has to be strongly addressed, but they seem divided about how to address it. There are strong personalities involved; men holding on to positions they’re committed to.
We might like it to be different, but it was that way from the beginning. The Spirit leads the church, not human beings. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13, 1-3)
From the beginning the Spirit brought human beings to lead who are different and will disagree.
Why? So that no one can boast?
The Spirit is our guide. Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
How about political leaders? Another story, or the same?
My guess is it’s the same. Beware of the one who knows it all.