This sermon was preached at the Society of Saint Polycarp annual retreat; St. Cecilia's Chapel, Toddhall Retreat and Conference Center, Columbia, IL
“BARNABAS’ BLOOD POINTS TO THE BLOOD OF AGNUS DEI”
Saint Matthew 10. 16-22
Saint Barnabas, Apostle, 11 June Anno + Domini 2014
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
You are not paid gladiators earning tribute, fame, and imperial privilege for your exegetical mastery and homiletical brilliance. You are slaves—douloi.
Your quickness of intellect doesn’t matter. Whether or not your “political” and “people” skills has placed you in basilica, cathedral, or some other place of power, beauty, and ethos; none of that is what you are truly about!
You are not lion-kings surveying all of your pride. You are sheep. It is not to be said amongst us, prideful chest puffing, “I am Spartacus” but rather breast striking, “I am Barnabas,” Kyrie Elieson.
But you know all of this—at least your New Man, your reborn baptismal creation so believes, teaches and confesses. Good. Gracious!
The real King, The “Lion of Judah” speaks however to your “old Adam,” your “ass” (as the Reformer would say) with the big ears twitching to hear compliments and self-affirming platitudes. Repent!
The supreme honor you have been given is the gift to icon The Good Shepherd—The King of Sorrow & Suffering on your behalf—to and for your own respective flocks.
You are called by the Paraclete through The Shepherds Word to go into the midst of Satan’s wolf-pack. May the ultimate jewel of martyrdom be yours…if and when it comes: Maranatha!
You are equipped. You are draped and mantled and soled with authority, in heaven and earth, because He who first washed + you clean at the Holy Womb of Mother Church, has also washed your feet clean with the Easter-eve Breath of His Holy Ordination. You have been claimed and placed into the fighting order of His Apostolic Band—of brothers—of blood.
In His stead you bind and you loose. In The “cruciform” you proclaim, catechize, and administer the Holy Things of The Holy One.
You are not as wise as serpents, though you behave many times like a snake in the grass. You are not as harmless as doves, but many times are as belligerent as chicken hawks and as noisy as thieving Jays.
Barnabas’ Lord and God is your Lord and God. The Christ is the perfect Creator, the Perfect God/Man and most certainly, He Is wise…far wiser than the old ancient foe. Christ is harmless and gentle (Agnus Dei). He is the active beast of burden and the passive paschal victim.
“They sent forth Barnabas.” The Church, the Apostles, the Bishop sent forth Presbyter Father Barnabas. The Bride of Christ has sent you forth as well.
“Their line has gone out through all the earth.” That line is an unbroken trail of blood—salvific atoning Christ-Blood! The wet footsteps of this crimson path comes from His riven side, from the five wounds of the Redeemer forever trumping and satisfying the five books of Torah. These words of Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins are the words of Barnabas, the Apostle Paul, and all of you; and they do go to the ends of the world.
This man we commemorate and honor today is deserving; he was a faithful soldier this Apostle to Antioch. His testimony was ultimately his martyrdom as he was stoned to death in Salamis A.D. 61. Fittingly the Symbols state “the memory of Saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works.” [AC XXI, Jacobs p. 46]
“For he, (Barnabas) was a good man” writes Saint Luke. He was a poor miserable sinner in thought, word and deed—like this small assembly. You have neglected visits to the sick and homebound. You have failed to pray for your attackers. You have envied your brother priests. You have back-bitten and thought evil of your recalcitrant members. You have treated blood-bought lambs as goats. You have lusted. You have erected idols of straw and have stood with Peter in blasphemy “I do not know the man!” Repent!
Barnabas was “good” only like Abraham and Job were good—“full of the Holy Ghost and faith,” that is, covered in the Blood of Jesus, and filled with the Flesh and Blood of His Eucharist!
This Evangel is what you exhort your sheepfolds with; this proclamation you cleave to and you preach—for the Lord is with you and always cleaves to you that you might cleave ever more to Him and His Words.
Your desert separation by sin from the Trinity is remedied. His separation from heaven, peace, and life itself on the Tree has sufficed. He is remedy incarnate and continues to bring peace and rest to His own by separating you out and sending you out, like Barnabas, as bloody sheep into the midst of hungry wolves.
You will be delivered up to the councils (and not just testy parish councils and mob-like voters’ assemblies). Good! You will be scourged in their synagogues. Good! You will be brought before governors and kings for His sake. Good! It is men like Barnabas that Tertullian correctly spoke “the Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church!”
As the Spirit spoke Your Father in The Word of The Son through your brother Saint Barnabas, “son of encouragement” He will speak through you.
“Ye shall be hated of all men for His Names sake.” Good…God’s gracious good, in the True Son of not just encouragement but of Victory.
He endures to the end…the end of the age..His Blood continues to cover and nourish. Thus you are saved.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of the Holy Ghost.