St. Mark

Your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. (1 Peter 5:9)

Let’s face it. Suffering is a part of life in this world. No one can escape it, not even the greatest saints. So let’s take the opportunity on this feast of St. Mark, to see how one of the church’s shining lights handled life’s slings and arrows.

Tradition tells us that St. Mark is the same John Mark who accompa­nied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. For some reason, however, Mark left halfway through the mission and returned home (Acts 15:37-38). We don’t know why, but if he hung around Paul, he must have experienced some of what Paul did—sleepless nights, hunger, beat­ings, and the like. Perhaps it was just too much for him, and he wanted to return to a normal life. Perhaps, since he was young, he just got homesick.

But whatever moved him to leave, Mark couldn’t stay away for long. Not long after he left, Barnabas invited him on a mission trip to Cyprus, and Mark accepted the chal­lenge (Acts 15:39).

What made Mark continue? Most likely it was Barnabas, his friend and brother in the Lord. Here was some­one who believed enough in Mark to give him a second chance.

Few of us endure the kind of tri­als that Mark did. But we all face our own challenges. And those chal­lenges can make us want to run away and isolate ourselves. Sometimes, running away feels easier than stay­ing the course and surrendering ourselves into God’s loving hands. Sometimes, we’d rather isolate our­selves than rely on a brother or sister for encouragement. But we simply can’t be all that we are called to be without people to encourage us and to remind us of God’s goodness.

Has God placed a “Barnabas” in your life? Someone to help you through those situations that cause you to fear or close in on yourself? Or has he placed a “Mark” in your life? Someone who needs your guid­ance? Give thanks for those people, and make sure you stay close to them. For so it is with us as with the flames in a fire—we burn much brighter together!

“Thank you, Lord, for the brothers and sisters you have given to me. May we build each other up in faith, in hope, and in your love and compassion!”

Psalm 89:2-3,6-7,16-17 Mark 16:15-20