Homily by His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Claudioupolis
The exemplary name of the Holy Apostle Barnabas shines brightly throughout the history of Cyprus, the Island of Saints. He is commemorated as “the great glory of Cyprus,” not only because he is the founder of this ancient and martyric Church, but because his presence has guided the Cypriot people throughout the ages.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles describes his dynamic apostolic ministry and vividly brings to life the Saint’s sacrificial disposition and the spontaneous outpouring of faith that characterized his life, especially in his obedienceto Christ’s commandment to evangelise the nations.
With great love forhis native land, St Barnabas bore aloftthe trophy of Christian truth during a period in history that was filled with adverse political conditions and a challenging religiousenvironment.
Perhaps the Apostle’s apolytikionbest summarises the measure of his charismatic personality and the complete offering of his extensive talents and charismata for building up the early Church tothe glory of the Risen Christ: Preacher to the world, first architect of the Christian name for the Antiochians, divine fisherman of the nations … great Apostle.
His martyric death crowned a life of intense struggle to fulfil the vocation of the crucifixion and resurrection; his efforts inspired future generations to imitate his fervour and make their own offerings to the Church. For our Cypriot community in the United Kingdom, there is no greater expression of love and patriotism than establishing Cyprus Day to be celebrated on his feast day.
Many mixed emotions accompany this celebration, as we are reminded of the tragic events in the painful history of our people, but also our perseverance in maintaining our ethnic legacy and ancient cultural heritage. We also call to mind our bravery in the face of conquerors and our common conviction for the restoration of justice — particularly relevant in recent decades in the wake of the invasion and illegal occupation of our land, which suffocates under the impunity of this illegal act.We long for repatriation of the rightful and legal inhabitants that have been displaced and for the safeguarding of our precious freedom
Wherever they may find themselves, the unperishable hope of the troubled yet indomitable Cypriot people certainly lies under the providence and care of the “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36), the Apostle Barnabas, who comforts our pain and unceasingly intercedes for justice on his martyric island and for the salvation of his children.