Lent Madness: Thomas Becket vs. Barnabas

Today’s matchup features the Killer Bs — Becket and Barnabas. An especially appropriate moniker, I guess, since both were brutally martyred. Okay, it would be a better fit if I referred to them as the Killed Bs but you get the point.

In recent Lent Madness action, Elizabeth of Hungary defeated John Donne 58% to 42% despite a late charge by the poet and will face the winner of Bernard vs. William Tyndale. Click Lent Madness 2011to view the updated tournament bracket.

Thomas Becket was a man who served both king and God. As King Henry II’s close friend and Chancellor, he vigorously defended royal authority in the face of ecclesiastical power. When Henry appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 Becket’s loyalties shifted to the supremacy of the church over the crown. This, naturally, enraged Henry who was overheard muttering, “This fellow who has eaten my bread has lifted up his heel against me . Have I no friend who will rid me of this upstart priest?”

Though Henry was evidently venting his frustration at the situation, four of his knights immediately rode to Canterbury and murdered the Archbishop in his own cathedral. Public opinion was swift in Becket’s favor and he was soon recognized as both a saint and martyr. The site of his murder became a shrine and the site of countless pilgrimages over many centuries.

Collect for Thomas Becket: O God, our strength and our salvation, who called your servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of your people and a defender of your Church: Keep your household from all evil and raise up among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Barnabas is listed as an apostle of Jesus and is perhaps best known as a missionary companion of St. Paul. The first we hear of him comes from the Acts of the Apostles: “Joseph, a Levite, born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (son of encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles.” We also know that while Barnabas was a Levite (one of the 12 tribes of Israel), he defended Gentile converts against the stringent demands of stricter church leaders to follow Jewish law.

Barnabas was also one of the earliest “Christians” to welcome Paul after his conversion on the Road to Damascus. While many still feared this man who had persecuted the followers of Jesus, Barnabas met with him and introduced him to others in the movement. Traditionally called the founder of the Cypriot church, Barnabas was martyred in Cyprus in 61 AD.

Collect for Barnabas: Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



6 Comments on “Lent Madness: Thomas Becket vs. Barnabas”

  1. Jeffri Harre says:

    I find it interesting that, so far, the person listed first each day has won.

  2. Father Tim says:

    Jeffri — my curate noticed this as well. I think it’s a coincidence but something to keep an eye on (this wasn’t a factor last year so I’m assuming the “best” saint has simply won these rounds).

  3. Bob Chapman says:

    Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
    The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
    And bathed every veyne in swich licour
    Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

    And specially from every shires ende
    Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
    The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
    That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

    Here is a vote for the petulant priest.

    Any saint that can get so many homoerotic scenes in a movie about his life will get my vote.

  4. Vicki says:

    One of my all-time favourite quotations is put in Becket’s mouth by T.S.Eliot: “This, then, is the greatest treason/To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

  5. Cheryl+ says:

    I think it is unfair match up, description wise. You wrote more about Becket plus he had a film done.

  6. Cynthia Walker says:

    Where is Becket, the butcher’s brat?
    Where is Becket, the Cheapside priest?
    Come down, Daniel, to the lions’ den,
    Come down, Daniel, and join in the feast!

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