Saint of the Day – 20 July – Saint Joseph Barsabbas the Just (1st Century) Disciple of Jesus, Martyr Bishop. Also known as – Justus, Barsabbas, Joseph Basassas, Joseph of Barsabas, Joseph the Just.
The Roman Martyrology states today: “The birthday of the blessed Joseph, surnamed the Just, whom the Apostles selected with the blessed Matthias, for the Apostleshop in the place of the traitor, Judas. The lot having fallen upon Matthias, Joseph, notwithstanding, continued to preach and advance in virtue and after having sustained from the Jews, many persecutions for the Faith of Christ, happoily ended his life in Judea.”
“Wherefore, of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us; beginning from the baptism of John, until the day wherein he was taken up from us, one of these must be made a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus,and Matthias. And praying, they said: Thou, Lord, who knowest the heart of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath, by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots and the lot fell upon Matthias and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” ― Acts 1:21 – 26 D-R
St John Chrysostom writes, “The other candidate (Joseph) was not annoyed, for the apostolic writers would not have concealed failings of their own, seeing they have told of the very chief Apostles, that on other occasions had indignation and not only once but again and again.”
It clear that Joseph Barsabbas (also called “Justus”) must have spent much time with the Apostles and witnessed many of the wondrous events in the life of Jesus. Further identification of Joseph is uncertain. In Christian tradition he is numbered among the Seventy disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1–24, although the biblical text mentions no names. “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” (10:1)
Very little is known about Joseph Barsabbas outside of the apostle selection by lots. Tradition believes that he went to Eleutheropolis (about 25 miles from Jerusalem) where he became Bishop Justus of Eleutheropolis. The town was renamed over the centuries. Its original Aramaic name Beth Gabra, translates as the “house of the mighty one.” The Romans gave it the Greek name, Eleutheropolis, meaning “City of the Free.”
Rev Alban Butler says – “After the dispersion of the disciples he preached the gospel to many nations and among other miracles, drank poison without receiving any hurt, as Papias and from him ,Eusebius, testify. This saint, from his extraordinary piety, was surnamed the Just.“