Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday in Pentecost, Proper 19: Division of labor

Opening Sentence
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

Holy, Holy, Holy

Commemoration: Hildegard of Bingen
O God, by whose grace your servant Hildegard, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 56, 57, 58

Lessons: Job 40, Acts 15:36-16:5, John 11:55-12:8

The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over Mark results in a division of labor between the two. Apparently, the rift was of no small concern, as Luke sees fit to record it in detail, rather than simply not that, at this point in their travels, Paul and Barnabas separated. Conspiracy theorists who are always accusing the church of cover-ups and fabrications would not like this passage, as it covers up nothing about the circumstances of the split.

From all indications, the division was temporary and served the larger purpose of easing the burden on both men. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus while Paul took Silas under his wing and "went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."

The purpose of these visits is to encourage those who have already believed, but that number continues to grow daily as Paul and Silas make their rounds. It is in Lystra, where Paul had been stoned on his first visit, that he meets Timothy, who was to become his protege. Near the end of his life, Paul would write to Timothy, instructing him to "Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11). The breach is finally healed.

Mark would go on to write one of the four Gospels and would include in his account of Jesus's life a seemingly obscure detail about a young man fleeing naked from the scene of Jesus's arrest (Mark 14:51-52). Even Mark himself had come to understand his weakness in the face of adversity during his younger days. It was a more mature Mark, having been disciplined under Barnabas and Peter (cf. 1 Peter 5:13) who turned out to be "very useful" in the ministry of the Gospel.

Take My Life (and Let it Be)