Acts 11:2-26;13:1-3; Ps 98 The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power; John 21:20-25
Many of us are familiar with the term "bluffing." The poker craze has made sure of tho for certain. No one who watches any TV, especially ESPN, has escaped being introduced to the World Series of Poker.
Poker has been a game that has captivated the heart and imagination of so many. It is a game of percentages. Where the gig isn't so much about winning every hand but rather winning enough of the hands to stay head of every one else on the competition.
It is a game of knowing as the Kenny Rogers sang so well, "when to hold, when to fold them, when to walk away."
Of course included in this reality of holding and folding is the ability to read your opponent. Is the other person serious, does he have a good hand or does he have tiger by the tail, or is he bluffing.
Poker has become more than just a game of cards but a sport that has fascinated so many young and old alike.
I often think of Poker when i think of today's feast, the memorial of St. Barnabas.
Barnabas arrives on the scene in the ACTS of the Apostles. He is a missionary. He ventures wide and far to spread the message of Christ. He goes on these journeys initially with St. Paul. These tow go forth to the "ends" of the earth proclaiming the kingdom.
Barnabas doesn't get a lot of play. Because he is attached to St. Paul, Barnabas gets neglected and pushed aside because of, and even rightly so, the fact that paul gets a lot play, a lot of attention.
But even before Paul gained notoriety, Barnabas quietly and unassumingly, lives the life of fidelity.
He was the one who the church leaned on and sent to investigate what was going on in different places where Christianity began to flourish.
Barnabas is like the Nuncio of the early church. He would go to relay back to Peter and the apostles what was happening around the world where Christians would gather, worship, and live.
He must have been trustworthy, other wise, why send him to get the facts and eliminate the fiction.
For instance, in today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Church sends Barnabas to investigate what was going on in Antioch, then he was sent to relocate Paul from Tarsus to Antioch. Here was man who had authority and respect.
Not many people would be able maneuver the great St. Paul, but Barnabas seemed to have the edge .
Why was Barnabas so reliable and trusted?
If we flip to Acts 4 and scroll down to verse 36 and following, we discover an insight in to Barnabas, we discover his true "tell" as they say in Poker.
"Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas, a Levite, a Cypriot by north, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles."
Barnabas gives everything to the church. In the terms of Poker, he was all in. He wasn't bluffing.
This is why he was so reliable and trusted. He showed himself early on to be a man of conviction. He showed himself early on to be a man who led by example. He truly had an obedient faith.
He didn't peak about his faith as much as he lived it.
He was a gambler of the highest degree.
He played the hand he was dealt, and he played it with integrity, concern, compassion, and most of all with deep conviction of faith about this Jesus.
He did not bluff. He went all in. He made a splash on the scene of the early church that earned him the nickname, "son of encouragement."
This encouragement wasn't by the words he spoke but by the life he lived.