Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Yesterday was the Memorial of the Apostle Saint Barnabas. We don't have any special celebrations in our family to honor him, though maybe we should. I was reading from my daily meditation book and the following reflections on his life struck me as so necessary to incorporate into my daily living to progress in spiritual growth and maturity.
In speaking of the saint, the author said :
"We are told of St. Barnabas that he was a good man who deserved the surname son of consolation and that he brought peace to many hearts. The Acts of the Apostles tells us, the first time they mention him, of his large-heartedness, a breadth of sympathy which can be seen in his generosity and spirit of detachment: thus Barnabas...sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the Apostles' feet. A generous and detached soul is in a position to give everybody a welcome and to understand the state that souls are really in."
He goes on to say:
"If we are to understand others we need to look at everything that is positive about them, and to see their faults only within the context of their good qualities, whether these qualities be actual or simply potential."
Wow! Then I was further humbled by the insights that follow from St. Teresa of Avila and St. Bernard. They speak of an understanding and forgiveness that I do not possess and so desire to emulate.
St. Teresa says:
"let us labor, therefore, always to consider the virtues and the good qualities we discern in others, and with our own great sins cover our eyes, so that we may see no more of their failings."
St. Bernard says:
"Even if you do see something bad, do not immediately pass judgement on your neighbor, but rather find excuses for him within yourself. Excuse his intentions if you cannot excuse his deeds. Think that he must have acted out of ignorance, or have been overcome by surprise or misfortune. If his conduct is so obviously bad that it cannot be overlooked, even then try to think in this way and say to yourself: the temptation must have been very strong."
I know that I am nowhere near being close to behaving in this manner. I am quick to blame, to assume and to think the worst of someone's actions. And, as the Gospel speaks of, I need much more practice removing the plank from my eye. Here I see a level of humility and great love that the saints are known for. I truly want to be a saint. I want to be able to love in this way. I believe that this love and understanding and greatness of heart is what God will use to win souls for His kingdom.