St. Barnabas: “Son of Encouragement,” son of Cyprus, bringer of faith


 Over the last decade,  profound concern has escalated about the likelihood that the small, struggling band of Christian communities, squeezed between goliaths on both sides, can endure much longer on the landscape where Christianity was born, flowered and flourished.

Pope Benedict XVI called attention to their plight once again during his visit last weekend to Cyprus. You can find all of the details of the trip in a wonderful website http://www.papalvisit.org.cy/cgibin/hweb?-V=index&_FAA=1&-dindex.html&_VLANGUAGE=en

This brings us in a round about way to St. Barnabas, whose feast we celebrate today. Barnabas, considered a most important person in the foundation of the early Church, is someone the Christian communities of the middle east could use a visit from now. Born in Cyprus where the pope made his recent plea, his given name was Joseph but the apostles bestowed on him the Hebrew name Barnabas – “Son of Encouragement” –  in honor of his work in the Church.

A terrific (and short) biography of the saint can be found at  http://www.stbarnabasborrego.org/StBarnabas/St_Barnabas_bios.htm

I thought of him as the stories about the pope’s appeal that attention needs to be paid if we are to save the remnants of Christendom in the Holy Land and how we all need to walk in the footsteps of Barnabas now. Some of those walking in his footsteps are the Franciscans of the Holy Land whose site http://www.ffhl.org/2006/default.asp is rich in information and ideas for how to help.

I’m going to continue researching ways to help the Christians of the Holy Land and as I find the information, I’ll post it on the blog.

In the meantime, as I do every summer since college, I’m going to indulge in cooking some middle eastern food which I developed a taste for in many youthful trips to New York. Back then, we quickly learned that middle eastern restaurants in general had some of the best and least expensive menus. There was one Greek restaurant steps outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal where a whole gang of us impoverished kids learned – probably to the distress of the proprietor — that you could make a meal out of Tzatziki and pita bread.

Now that Greek yogurt — impossibly thick and creamy — has translated so well to the American marketplace, Tzatziki is easy to create at home.

Tzatziki

Ingredients- 2- 1/2 cups Greek yogurt; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; juice of one large lemon; 2 small cucumbers, finely chopped; 1 tablespoon flat leafed parsley or mint, finely chopped; black pepper to taste; 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.

Directions: Put yogurt and garlic in a small bowl. Add the cucumber, parsley and lemon juice and beat well. Add pepper to taste and then the olive oil and mix once again. Serve with pita bread.

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