The Third Week of Lent: Sunday, March 15, 2020

Read John 5:25-29

As mentioned in yesterday’s meditation, Paul and Barnabas had a difficult encounter in Paphos (Acts 13:4-13).  This conflict may have frightened the young man, Mark.  Whether from fear or another reason, Mark left the two older evangelists and returned home.  His action was perceived by Paul as an abandonment of the young man’s calling, and created a problem for the Apostle.  Ultimately, Paul’s anger over this perceived failing led to a break-up with Barnabas.  When Paul wanted to return to the cities they had previously visited, Barnabas wanted to take Mark.  Luke records that “Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.  And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other…” (Acts 15:38-39).  

Mark may have hoped that he could learn through experience at the feet of the Apostle Paul, and his cousin Barnabas may have pushed him a bit too soon.  Nevertheless, Barnabas didn’t give up on him, he “took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus” and they ministered there (Acts 15:39).  But both Scripture and tradition attest that Peter, whom we noted in the first week knew Mark and his family, took the young man under his wing and mentored him.  At the end of his first Epistle, Peter refers to Mark as “my son” (5:13).  And through the care and mentoring that Mark received from both Barnabas and Peter, the young evangelist was restored to the evangelical ministry of the Church.  Even Paul once again received him into the company of his disciples (Philemon 24).  He also commands Timothy to “Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me” (2 Tim. 4:11).  This speaks highly of both Paul and Mark.  The two were reconciled, and that produced good fruit for the Church in every era to follow.  Mark’s experience of Jesus’ redeeming love became the heart of his message in the Gospel he wrote.

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