Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra,
Painted by the Master of the Budapest Saints Paul and Barnabas,
active in the second quarter of the 16th century,
Oil on panel
© Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra,
Painted by the Master of the Budapest Saints Paul and Barnabas,
active in the second quarter of the 16th century,
Oil on panel
© Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Gospel of 11 June 2024

Feast of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Reflection on the painting

Today we celebrate the feast of St Barnabas. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus. His birth name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement" (Acts 4:36). Barnabas played a key role in the spread of Christianity, especially among Gentiles. He was known for his generosity, having sold a field he owned and giving the money to the apostles (Acts 4:37). When Saint Paul came to Jerusalem after his conversion, most of the Christians there wanted nothing to do with him for they had known him as a persecutor of Christians. But Barnabas, guided by the Holy Spirit was willing to take a calculated risk on Paul. They became great friends and travelled far and wide, sharing the Good News of Christ to the world. St Barnabas was also one of the Cypriots who founded (Acts 11:19–20) the church in Antioch, where he preached. Barnabas was present at the Council of Jerusalem, which addressed the issue of Gentile converts and whether they needed to follow Jewish law. He, along with Paul, argued successfully that Gentile converts did not need to be circumcised (Acts 15).

Our 16th century painting depicts Barnabas and Paul in Lystra, as recounted in Acts 14:8-20, Paul and Barnabas encountered a man crippled from birth who had never walked. Seeing that the man had faith to be healed, Paul called out for him to stand up, and the man was miraculously healed. The astonished crowd mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods, calling Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, and they attempted to offer sacrifices to them, which we see being brought on the right of the painting. However, Paul and Barnabas vehemently rejected this, insisting they were mere humans and urging the people to turn to the living God. Despite their efforts to correct the misunderstanding, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived, inciting the crowd to stone Paul and drag him out of the city, leaving him for dead (we see the stoning talking place in the distance on the right, outside the city walls). Miraculously, Paul survived and continued his missionary work after being helped by the disciples.

Share this Gospel Reading

Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?

Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading

Subscribe
Notify of
24 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
10 days ago

Providing salt, as a condiment or for preserving, was and is work, either in a factory, on the cool Cornish and Norfolk coasts, in various salt mines, or in the blazing heat of the Rhône delta, for example. There are many grades of salt, as there are many intensities of light, and, similarly, artificial light did not simply occur: someone discovered rags would burn in olive oil, wood would provide torches if wrapped with pitch, beeswax could provide sweetly smelling candles. So we don’t instantly become salt and light, there is work to be done, processes to be gone through. Lord give us the knowledge and persistence, the creativity, to be worthy of You, and so to be both salt and light to the world. 🙏

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
10 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Amen

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
10 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Yes Noelle – a beautiful prayer; thank you.

From the earliest Eucharistic prayers in the church, we have instruction for the Priests: “while silently kneeling before the Bread pray: ‘We give you thanks, Father, for the life and the Knowledge which you have revealed to us through Jesus you servant’…” (Didache).
(So … when you see Fr. lingering a li’l longer at Consecration you’ll know what’s up (grin)).

And: …
Is this ‘discovery’ not so much a thing exterior, waiting for us to find, but rather, an ‘interior ontological fundamental’, a part of our makeup as Children of God – “You ARE salt … YOUR Light MUST shine”?

We live in a decisive time, when ‘God’s Spirit has been poured into all flesh’. It is a terribly exciting time – or as I think the Queen mother use to say ‘an awe-full time’ (?…). Indeed it is a time demanding of us grave “creativity”, … that we be found “worthy” containers/stewards of such an ‘awesome’ imprint/power/seal of God Presence.

Surely it was this that the Lystrian’s saw in Barnabas and Paul, and tragically wanted to ‘pedestalize’, rather than, acknowledge the potential/responsibility laying within themselves. If it was that easy to simply grab a bull by the horns – re: today’s painting.

But when it’s a matter of ‘Theosis’ , it’s far more about one ‘grabbing oneself by the horns’, and becoming all that we are!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
10 days ago

Salt and light… Neither salt nor light make sense in themselves…. Nobody eats salt in handfuls, but salt gives flavor to food. Nobody stares at the light that illuminates an important painting, but without that light we could not taste art….. That’s how we Christians are. Our mission is to be in the world so that it has more human and divine flavor and to illuminate reality and give light to a history often submerged in darkness…
Bishop Barron says today: “A clear statement is that, without fervent Christians, the world is a much worse place”.
🙏🏻🙏🏻 Thank you Lord you still trust me to be salt and light …

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
10 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

My friend says that we must be the leaven in society. As the traditional church declines we have to hang on in and wait for the Christian renaissance. And it will come. By our works they will know us.
Ramble, ramble…….

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
10 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Thank you for that Elvira

Elvira
Member
Elvira
10 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

There are many doing a magnificent work today within the Catholic Church! .. and giving their life…
I like to distinguish between the volunteers of non-governmental organizations and the missionaries and volunteers of our Church…, without going further your work of the weekend was magnificent…. Our Church is living a moment of transformation towards authenticity and commitment…, although we do not see it near…

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
10 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

👍👍👍 Busy in town today, thanks so much for your insights, Elvira. 🌺

Paul Burrell
Member
Paul Burrell
10 days ago

And after all they had done together it is sad to note that, subsequent to the Council of Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas had a major falling out and went their separate ways (Acts 15:39). It is so vital we keep our eyes on God, not on men!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul Burrell

Hello Paul, I do not see it so sad….. although we consider them saints, also they argued and were angry…. , like us. There is no reason to omit the weaknesses of the saints. It is healthy to see that those on the altars are beings like us, flesh and blood. We can learn an important lesson from the relationship between Paul and Barnabas. Two men of God, loved by the churches, filled with the Spirit, enduring persecution together and seeing people saved. But they didn’t agree on everything. They argued and they split. But the two continued, in fact, the number of communities doubled!.
¡ -God can use even our disagreements to advance His work- !.
Paul and Barnabas still depended on God. They proceeded quietly, even if it meant separating. As for personal opinion and practical procedure, Paul and Barnabas differed, but both saw the need to share the gospel with the world, because both were united in what is truly important.

Paul Burrell
Member
Paul Burrell
10 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Yes, got that Elvira! I think my main point was that we run the risk of venerating men and women rather than the God who inspires them. We all have weaknesses and are in need of grace. The healing was by the power of God, not the power of Paul and Barnabas and it is a good example that they did not bask in the glory of it.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
10 days ago

I couldn’t look in yesterday. However, having looked just now at Breughel’s little gem portraying the Beatitudes, it reminded me that open air churches were quite a thing in the Low Countries, following wholesale iconoclasm, eschewing buildings and decoration.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
10 days ago

My eye is drawn to the centre, and to the foliage growing from what seem to be ruins. So many people too! Only one female I can make out in the foreground, obviously caring for the crippled man, and the only animal the ox in danger of being sacrificed.
Paul’s body language is saying, ‘No, no more sacrifice. The true sacrifice has been offered.’

In the gospel Jesus is telling us who we are- we are salt, we are light, we must be seen to others like the city on the hill.

It is hard to know how, in my very modest life, I can be that beacon to others. For me it has to begin with my family, with those around me, with those I may encounter today even in small ways.

Saint Barnabus, in your friendship with Paul and in your service to the Gospel, pray for us that we may also be good friends to others, and witnesses to the Light,

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
10 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Morning SfG. The foliage was the first thing I saw, too 😂
How fearless Barnabas and Paul were. The most wonderful thing is where they admit only to being human – that it is God, through the Holy Spirit that acts – as here, in a healing.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
10 days ago

I think the ruins and foliage have a meaning…. The ruins represent the fall of the Roman Empire and the foliage arising from a new way of living and being: the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth, Christianity

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
10 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

The blessed tree from which all life springs Elvira!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
10 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

So helpful, thanks SfG. Have a good day being ‘salty and lighty’.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
10 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I visited the cemetery- my brother’s birthday. I went with my other brother’s widow. No funerals this week though.
A happy coincidence occured. I had been wanting to see if the local heritage group were still meeting so popped into the library.
‘Yes,’ the man at the desk said, ‘they’re meeting now- why don’t you pop in?’
I went in and hurriedly introduced myself saying I would return next week if I could. I quickly explained I wanted some information about a man called Robinson who had designed my local town hall (I may explain why this man interests me in due course) only to find the lady I was speaking to was his great great grandaughter! How wonderful was that!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
10 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

RIP your brother. You were fortunate to meet the descendent of Mr. Robinson, a case of making your day? – good! Our multi-pronged trip to town (about 22 mile round trip) went well, mercifully not too much traffic….

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
10 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Your words shine. Thank you.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

Aw so kind Mark- all light needs a source.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
10 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Great rejoinder!

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
10 days ago

Didn’t St.Paul have an awful time in the face of his commitment to Our Lord! Yet, balanced seeing these cripple get up and walk with God’s help! I love those lines… “A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden”… that’s us! Imagine🕯

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
10 days ago
Reply to  Monica Doyle

Thankyou Monica for this little spark of inspiration!

Readings related to Matthew 5:13-16

4 March 2023

Matthew 5:43-48

Love your enemies

11 March 2022

Matthew 5:20-26

Go and be reconciled with your brother first

23 March 2022

Matthew 5:17-19

I have not come to abolish the Law and the Prop...

13 October 2023

Matthew 5:1-12a

Saint Edward the Confessor

Join our community

In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: 

The mission of Christian Art is to offer a daily Gospel Reading paired with a related work of art and a short reflection. Our goal is to help people grow closer to God through the magnificent pairing of art and the Christian faith.

CONNECT WITH US

Join over 70,000 people who receive our daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection

Skip to content