We Christians have kept the memorial of St. Mary Magdalen on July 22 for at least 13 hundred years.
Perhaps she died on July 22. Or maybe she arrived at Ephesus on July 22–during the summer after Pentecost–to announce to the people of Asia Minor what she had announced to the Apostles, namely that Christ lives.
Imagine living through the summer after the first Pentecost. The first summer after the Redemption of the human race. The first summer of the Age of Grace.
That summer, when it got really, really hot, everyone could look at each other and say, ‘You know what? Now that the Lord Jesus has conquered the devil, this oppressive summer heat does not necessarily have to be a foretaste of what life after death will be like!’
The Church has dedicated a year to commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul. Half of the books of the New Testament have St. Paul for their human author. St. Paul is one of the most famous and well-beloved saints of all time.
St. Paul made his first apostolic journeys alongside St. Barnabas.
In a comical episode in Lystra, the locals mistook Barnabas and Paul for Greek gods. They mistook Barnabas for Zeus and Paul for Hermes. Zeus is the king of the Greek gods; Hermes is Zeus’ spokesman. The locals’ mistake, therefore, leads us to believe that Barnabas seemed to be the one in charge.
During St. Paul’s second missionary journey, he and Barnabas agreed to separate and work in different territories.
St. Barnabas then went on to do what St. Paul did, just in different parts of the world. St. Barnabas preached, explained the faith, wrote evangelical letters, etc.
St. Barnabas could well have written as much or more than St. Paul did. We do not know, because most of the writing of the ancient world has been lost.
The Lord, in His Providence, saw to it that a great deal of St. Paul’s writing was collected in the New Testament. St. Barnabas’ writing was not included in the canon of Scripture.
My point is: This year could just as easily have been the Year of St. Barnabas. Barnabas could have become the famous one.
St. Paul could have remained a relatively obscure saint, with just a humble Memorial every year. (N.B. Click through this link to discover a wonderful weblog with the daily Mass readings correlated with the excellent Haydock commentary!)
St. Barnabas, however, is not worried about the discrepancy. He is in heaven, after all, with St. Paul. Neither of them are concerned with earthly glory.
St. Barnabas was never worried about earthly glory. All he ever worried about was…