All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Barnabas, called an apostle though not one of the Twelve. Like Saint Paul, he had not been among Jesus' historical disciples; but he belonged to Christ as surely as any of the twelve or seventy-two. Perhaps his biggest contribution to the Christian movement was to sponsor Paul, introducing him to the Church in Jerusalem, and mentoring him as they set out on the missionary road. Eventually, as often happens in mentoring relationships, they quarreled and parted, each following the same Gospel, in obedience to the same Spirit, but to different parts of the world.
Saint Luke faithfully recounted their separation and did not seem distressed about it. It's not as if all Christians have to like each other and work well together. Being catholic, there is plenty of room for everyone.
The Church interprets Psalm 98, which is offered today as our responsorial psalm, as a "new song" of joy in the Lord's victory. Though Barnabas and Paul and their colleagues comprise only one of many peculiar religious cults in the Roman Empire, Saint Luke had no doubt and -- two millennia later we share his confidence -- that "All the ends of the earth (will) see the salvation by our God."
Perhaps we lack empirical evidence for this confidence but the Holy Spirit has convinced us and we cannot doubt the Spirit's evidence. As we celebrate our liturgies, read our scriptures, study the lives of saints and the history of the Church, we "know" that God's purposes will be fulfilled. It's not a matter of if but when.
We watch closely political, economic and social developments; we often wonder where all this is going and sometimes wring our hands with the same anxiety as our disbelieving neighbors, until we turn to prayer again and know that "God is still in charge."
Today's gospel recaps the promises God has given to us: the poor will inherit God's kingdom; mourners will be comforted, the meek will inherit the land, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied, and so forth.
How that all comes to pass is no particular concern; we've already seen enough unexpected twists and turns of history to know we cannot imagine the future. We have the evidence of two thousand years to assure us that the Church which has survived far worse times than this will greet the Lord on that Great Day, even if it's a thousand years hence.