• Sarah Raad


“Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.” (Acts 11:25).

Saint Barnabas (Milan)

I have been thinking about Saint Barnabas the Apostle, who was not one of the twelve apostles, but was likely one of the 72 men who were called to go out and preach to the nations. Saint Barnabas was the travelling companion of Saint Paul the Apostle. And one thing that I have come to realise upon reflection, is that sanctity must be contagious…

Christ said, “…preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7). And it is in this way that Saints draw other Saints…

And Saint Barnabas said, “Without Grace there is no hope, but with it there is no shortage.”

Saint Therese of Lisieux, who died in her early twenties after suffering painful tuberculosis, brought such an example of sanctity through her words and deeds to the world during her very short life that her parents are beatified and the cause for sainthood is being considered for some of her siblings. Sanctity was contagious in Lisieux…

Saint Francis of Assisi was friends with Saint Dominic. Saint Francis himself was the spiritual director of Saint Clare of Assisi (who founded the Poor Clare’s in imitation of the Franciscan order) and Saint Clare of Assisi was the older sister of Saint Agnes of Assisi (who joined her as a Poor Clare). Here too, in Assisi, sanctity was contagious.

Saint Joseph Cafasso was the teacher of Saint John Bosco and Saint John Bosco, in turn, taught Saint Dominic Savio. Here too, in Italy, sanctity was contagious.

And then there is the great Maronite Saint Charbel Maklouf, who was taught by Saint Nimatullah Kassab, who lived in a remote mountain village in Lebanon, where sanctity was contagious.

And there are so many other examples! You have only to think of Pope Saint John Paul II who knew and admired Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta to understand even in our Global world, sanctity is contagious, even across borders…

And I have been reflecting on how… How is sanctity contagious? And I think that I have stumbled across the answer… Spiritual friendship. It is spiritual friendship that makes sanctity contagious…

And I have been reflecting on this also, because we know a few things about the life of this ancient saint. We know that he generously sold a field and gave the money to the Apostles. And we know that he went to Antioch to preach to the Christians who ran away from Jerusalem following the martyrdom of Saint Stephen. And we know also that when that work become overwhelming, as people were converting in the thousands during that time, Saint Barnabas was humble enough to do something that would change the world forever… He was humble enough to go in search of Saul of Tarsus… “Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.” (Acts 11:25).

You see, Saul of Tarsus, became Saint Paul the Apostle, when Saint Barnabas went in search of him… And I have been reflecting on that today as I consider my own imperfections. Because I have come to realise that perhaps – through the Grace of God – I too have been called to seek out another Saint Paul… After all, sanctity is contagious, even right here, where I live…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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