Acts 13:13-25; Ps 89 For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; John 13:16-20
First glance at the the first reading for today, "From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and arrived at Pergia in Pamphylia. But John left them and returned to Jerusalem. THey continued on from Pergia and reached Antioch in Pisidia."
Paul and Barnabas on are on a journey. And John, also known as Mark, the one who is believed to have written the gospel of Mark, decides to leave, abandoning the mission. He decided to go back home.
Perhaps he got scared. The journey to Antioch in Pisidia was not an easy jaunt but rather a dangerous and daunting climb. To get there the group had to scale the Taurus range of mountains, which was 3600 feet above sea-level, as well as, doing so by way of the hardest and most notorious roads of Asia Minor.
This was no journey for the weak of heart or the weak of knees. This journey required perseverance, endurance, strength, stamina and most of all the willingness to risk it all.
IT seemed, John was not up to the challenge, so he went home.
St. John Chrysostom stated that John was a Momma's boy.
In Acts 15:38, we catch a glimpse it what Paul thought about John's decision to leave them high and dry.
Acts 15:37-38 is as follows, "Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, but Paul insisted that, as he had deserted them at Pamphylia, refusing to join them on that mission, he was not fit to be taken along now."
St. Paul doesn't mince words. He considered John a deserted and perhaps even a coward.
Perhaps like Paul we have been disappointed with someone in our life. Perhaps we have been abandoned by someone at an important cross roads in our life and felt betrayed by their decision. Maybe like Paul, we made a personal decision to not let them back into our life.
Maybe we have seen people turn away from challenges and felt compelled to judge them because of their cowardness. Maybe we have met "momma's boys" in our life and have been frustrated with their lack of maturity or resolve.
Perhaps we have the coward lack resolve. Perhaps we have been the ones who abandon others or gotten weak in the knees or betrayed someone we love at important times in our life.
If so then what?
Well, we turn to 2 Timothy 4:11. Here we encounter Paul some years removed from the event at Pamphylia where John left them high and dry. Here we encounter Paul in Prison. He is writing a letter to his friend and companion Timothy and in it he states the following, "I have no one with me but Luke. Get MArk and bring him with you, for he can be of great service for me."
That is right. You read correctly. Paul is requesting Mark, aka John, to be brought to him because of great service.
The deserted is now useful. The one who lacked courage is now one who can give strength and courage. The one who was not wanted is now requested.
Things change, don't they.
Perhaps here in lies the lesson for today.
We should not give up on any one. God's grace continues to be affected. People can change. People do change. The one we despise today might be the one we need tomorrow.
Just a thought.