“Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me.” (2 Timothy 4:11)
Mark had not always been useful to Paul. He had gone with Paul and his uncle, Barnabas, on Paul’s first missionary journey. He made it as far as the island of Paphos, but when they landed in Perga, Mark went home to
Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). We don’t know why Mark went home. Perhaps what happened on Paphos frightened young Mark. Maybe he was homesick.
Mark had run away before. In the Gospel according to St. Mark, a young man flees the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus is being arrested. The soldiers grab his tunic, but the young man breaks loose and flees naked. Many people think this is Mark referring to himself.
How embarrassing! To flee naked from the garden. To run home to mama when missionary life gets rough. What a coward!
And yet, Mark turns out to be “useful” to Paul in his imprisonment. So useful, Paul specifically asks that Timothy bring him. What happened? It’s called, “maturity,” growing up.
Failures are inevitable, especially when we are young. You crash the car. You make a fool of yourself trying to witness. You trip over your own two feet learning to dance. We will try things and fall miserably on our faces. Sometimes we’ll even embarrass ourselves and run away.
But the all-reconciling death of Jesus reconciles even our failures, those times when we fled naked or ran to the safety and comfort of home. These are taken up in the death of Jesus and worked for good and blessing – for us and for others. In the freedom of forgiveness in Jesus, we have room to grow, mature, and become increasingly useful. Mark became an evangelist, who recorded the preaching and teaching of Peter in the Gospel according to St. Mark.
How’s that for a comeback?
“O almighty God, as you have enriched your Church with the precious Gospel proclaimed by the evangelist St. Mark, grant us firmly to believe your glad tidings of salvation and daily walk according to your Word; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Collect for the Feast of St. Mark)
Daily Lectionary: Exodus 23:14-33; St. Luke 4:31-44
Higher Things would like to thank the Rev. William Cwirla (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church,Hacienda Heights, CA - firstname.lastname@example.org) for writing this season's Reflections.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, email@example.com.
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