Barnabas…sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles. (Acts 4:36-37)
Re-birth from above involves letting go of worldly possessions and putting them entirely into the hands of their true owner, which is God.
Barnabas had a large estate. People in those days, just like us, thought of a large country estate as the ultimate possession. You could go there and control everything–have peace and quiet, escape the noisy demands of all the rabble in the city. A man with a large estate enjoyed true “independence,” or so everyone thought in the days of the Roman empire.
But Barnabas discovered something. He did not want independence. He didn’t want to be a powerful man who controlled everything in his life and could keep the dirty people away from him.
He wanted just the opposite. He wanted to live in a tent with St. Paul. He wanted to eat simple meals with the poor and teach them about Jesus Christ.
Barnabas knew he could never be satisfied with a comfortable life, because even his great riches seemed paltry compared to the joy of living as one of the brothers who followed in the footsteps of Jesus. Even a vast estate on a Mediterranean island seemed lame compared to heaven. Barnabas chose Christian friendship over wealth. True friendship is worth more than all the money in the world.
St. Catherine of Siena* followed in these same footsteps. She gave up the marriage to a wealthy man which her parents had planned for her. She, too, did not want a “comfortable” life on earth. She preferred to live like Barnabas. She found happiness with the bare minimum of food, clothing, and shelter, so that she could focus on helping other people turn to God.
However it is that the Lord has planned for us to serve Him in this pilgrim life, we can only find our way by recognizing this fact: Everything we have really belongs to God. He has put it all into our hands for one reason: So that we can have the true joy of sharing it with others.
* who died 634 years ago today