AD SENSE

10th Week, Thursday, Jun 11th / St. Barnabas

1 Kings 18:41-46 / Matthew 5:20-26 
Now, go and eat: Elijah sat with his head between his knees.

Elijah’s words to Ahab, “Now, go and eat,” suggest he even got the king to fast to petition God to send rain upon the land. Elijah’s strange posture suggests that he was engaging in intense prayer.
Prayer and fasting are often joined in Scripture. King David fasted and prayed for his infant son. (2 Samuel 12:16)
Ezra and the people fasted and prayed for protection. (Ezra 8:21)
The early Church fasted and prayed before sending Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. (Acts 13:3)
The nation of Israel fasted and prayed in time of national need. (2 chronicles 20:3-6)
Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert.
(Luke 4:2)
****
When was the last time we not only prayed but also joined fasting to it? “I know now . . .there is no prayer without fasting.” Mohandas Gandhi
****
The present weather in Singapore can be rather uncomfortable. It can be so hot and humid, and the little rain that comes along does not cool things down much. But no matter what we say about the weather, we in Singapore have not experienced drought, not even severe drought. We have not gone for months, or even years without any rain at all. But some of us may remember that in the past when there was a prolonged dry spell, and the water level in our reservoirs was at an alarming low, there was water-rationing. So we can imagine what it was like to have a drought for three and a half years, without a drop of rain!

That was the situation in the 1st reading. The land of Israel was experiencing drought for three and a half years already and there was also the consequent famine. But king Ahab was not that bothered by it at all. In his mind, the drought would end, the rains will come, and the famine will be resolved.

So we may understand why the prophet Elijah told Ahab, "Go back, eat and drink". It was more like a scornful remark about his indifference about the sufferings of his people and his selfish concern.

King Ahab was a figure of a hardness of heart and he had grown coarse from constantly rejecting the Lord.

He had seen the fire from heaven which consumed Elijah's sacrifice, he had seen the 450 prophets of the idol Baal slain by Elijah, his people were suffering from drought and famine.

But he still didn't even bother to turn to the Lord for help. Instead it was Elijah who did the praying.

We may not have the hardness and coarseness of heart like king Ahab, but Jesus warns us that if our virtues go no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees in the gospel, then we may know what it truly means to be a disciple.

And if our virtues go no deeper than those who are not Christians, then it may also mean that the teachings of Jesus have not soften our hearts, and our souls are like a land dry and weary from drought and famine.

Jesus wants to shower His blessings on us and soften our hearts with His love so that our hearts will bear fruits of forgiveness and reconciliation.
**** 
Thursday June 11

ST. BARNABAS, Apostle (Feast)

Introduction

St. Paul owed very much to this missionary, for Barnabas involved Paul in his work among the Christians of Antioch, who were of pagan origin. Acts called Barnabas “a prophet and teacher” and “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith.” He was an open spirit, convinced that if one had faith it was enough to let one become eligible to be a Christian. Inspired by the Spirit, the leaders of the community of Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas on their missionary mission.

Opening Prayer

Lord our God,
prompted by the Holy Spirit,
the church of Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas
on their missionary mission among pagans.
Let your Church everywhere send
good, zealous men and women as missionaries.
Fill them with the Holy Spirit and with faith,
that they may touch the hearts of people
and win them as disciples and friends
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Commentary

Luke tells us that Barnabas was “a good man, filled with Holy Spirit and faith.” Barnabas rejoiced in the many blessings received by the people of Antioch. Only a good man can so delight in the wellbeing and good fortune of the other. Barnabas was an apostle who realized that whatever grace one has received is a free gift from God and hence is to be freely shared for the benefit of all. Thus, when he saw similar gifts and fruits of the Spirit in others, his heart rejoiced.
What is received freely as gift must be given freely as a gift. The apostles, and we too through them, are reminded that the many blessings and graces we have received—whether it is the gift of prophesy, healing, teaching, et cetera—are given freely and gratuitously to them, and therefore, must be shared generously for the building up of the Kingdom. Let us pray, through the intercession of Barnabas, for the grace to share our resources freely and to rejoice in the blessings of others.

Prayer over the Gifts

Lord God,
let the Eucharist of Jesus
bring the light and life of your Son and his zeal
to our communities everywhere
to make them missionary
by the way they live
and to make Christ visible to people.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion

God of all people,
at the celebration of St. Barnabas we pray:
Make all your missionaries
people of the Holy Spirit and of deep faith,
that they may speak to the people you send them
the words of life and joy of the good news
and cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse those unclean and cast out evil.
May they do so generously, without charge,
for they have received from you without charge
through Jesus Christ our Lord.