Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3; Psalm 98:1-3ab, 3dc-6; Mt 5:17-19
Because of Saint Barnabas and all the other Apostles, all the ends of the earth have come to see the salvation by our God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We who live at the ends of the earth, we who have never been to the Holy Land, we who were not with those on the Mount of the Beatitudes, we have come to rejoice and be glad in Our Savior. Saint Barnabas rejoiced in the great numbers who believed. The Lord Jesus was glad to give the crowds a reason to rejoice even when persecuted. We, too, are here on the mount of the liturgy to catch a glimpse of the glory of the cross, which is ours.
For a whole year Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas taught in the church at Antioch. They taught a large number of disciples how to live and move and have their being in the Lord Jesus Christ! These early believers became so completely identified with Christ that they were called “little Christs” or “Christians.” This vibrant community was so filled with faith and the Holy Spirit that they were opened to the missionary call. They were so available to the will of God that they could hear the Spirit summon and send Saint Barnabas and Saint Paul to go forth from them, to leave the beloved community, to face the dangers of hostile strangers. During the liturgy and while they were fasting the Holy Spirit directed the Church at Antioch to “set apart” Barnabas and Saul for the work of evangelization. To be set apart is to be consecrated, to be blessed by God and prayed over by the community of believers. These Christians laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them off to spread the good news as the Spirit led them. All through the history of the church, the formation of intimate and healthy communities results in the sending of certain blessed and chosen ones to announce the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth.
It is the same Holy Spirit, that abounds in the life and ministry of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, that also abides in our hearts. In his Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus makes it clear that he is no enemy of the law; he is not opposed to the tradition of guidance from the First Moses. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.” The phrase, “the law and the prophets,” refers to the entire Old Testament. As Jesus continues to explain, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” The New Moses does not reject the First Moses. This fulfillment that the Lord Jesus proclaims is from His heart and in the Spirit. He does not oppose the Father’s will even in the slightest manner, and he teaches others to be this obedient. Christ’s obedience is out of love not out of fear. From all eternity our Elder Brother, the Eternal Son, has gazed upon the Father’s Face and delighted to do his will, without hesitation. Only because we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, which was upon the Son from the eternal moment of his being eternally begotten of the Father. Only because of our Spirit-filled life in Christ can we obey the greatest and least of the commands of Our Father. Without the obedience of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit we could only despair in all our efforts to be holy. Here at the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant, in Christ’s Body and Blood, do we have the greatest desire to obey and even the least desire to obey Our Father.