In the beginning of today's reading we encounter the following:
"Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission, they returned to Jerusalem..."
What relief mission?
While Barnabas and Saul were in Antioch, tending and building up the early church, a prophet Agabus (Acts 11:27ff) stood up and proclaimed there would be a world wide famine. Thus, the church in Antioch decided to gather funds and send it as a relief to their brothers in Judea.
Early on, the Church began to mobilize its forces to help others in need. The church refused to remain isolated and individualistic. It saw a need and stretched forth to help.
What Barnabas and Saul carry out it in the early church is similar to the modern day Catholic Relief Service.
Words from Pope Benedict:
"Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and love itself, then we are in life. Then we "live."...
Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus...The relationship with Jesus , however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all. Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his "being for all." It makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole...Love of God is revealed in responsibility for others."
What is our relief mission? How do we offer relief to our brothers and sisters? Do we let this communion with Jesus become a true communion for all, being for others?
Only then do we "live."
In communion with Jesus, his way becomes our way.
In the words of St. Augustine as he quotes St. Paul, 'Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who for their sake died. Thus a new life was born for the saint who described his daily life as the following:
"The turbulent have to be corrected, the faint hearted cheered-up, the weak supported; the Gospel's opponents refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved."
What a real relief mission!