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Hope for Chickens: Weekly Message for 4-25-17
Dear Friends in Christ,
I should start by clarifying that no fowl were harmed (or even considered literally) in the drafting of this e-mail. We’re a few weeks into the Easter season. The Easter eggs may be gone, but our hope in the Resurrection should never fade, and today that hope is epitomized in a saint and evangelist for whom we have documentation of being a reformed chicken: St. Mark the Evangelist.
That statement presupposes that the figure John Mark who appears in Scripture (and not just as the author of the Gospel) is St. Mark the Evangelist. Some biblical scholars may legitimately disagree, but bear with me. A venerable Church tradition maintains that Mark may have been St. Peter’s secretary (when Peter was freed miraculously from imprisonment by an angel he went to John Mark’s house and John Mark opened the door– see Acts 12:12, but John Mark is also mentioned as cousin to Barnabas (see Colossians 4:10) and traveling companion to St. Paul. Well, more like traveling companion to Paul while traveling with Barnabas (Acts 12:25).
However, he didn’t travel with Paul for long. At one point he was traveling with Paul and Barnabas and decided he had enough: he chickened out (cf. Acts 15:38). We know Paul was famous for his gentleness and tranquility in the face of a lack of apostolic zeal (note: that was sarcasm), so when Barnabas tried to bring along the Chicken again, Paul and he got in a huge fight and they parted ways (Acts 15:39). Imagine apostles fighting over you, but not for a good reason.
The fact that Mark still got an honorable mention in Acts, unlike the anonymous Rich Young Man who faded into oblivion, shows that there was hope for Mark. He’s later mentioned in the epistles of St. Paul (Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11– where Paul calls him a “useful”; servant, and Philemon 24) and Peter (1 Peter 5:13). However, the greatest testimony of hope for chickens is that despite his timidity he went on to become an evangelist, sharing the Good News that he had witnessed and lived alongside the Apostles.
We’ve all been chickens at one moment or another in living and giving witness to our faith. Let’s ask St. Mark to help us grow in fearless hope. Christ has conquered death. We have nothing to fear.