In the Acts of the Apostles chapter 12:25, we are introduced for the first time to Saint John-Mark's (Mark) presence on this initial missionary journey of Saints Barnabas and Paul. They were preaching the word of God and they "had John as an attendant" (Acts 13:5) of the missionary party. The Greek word for "attendant" means like "gopher" in our language today.

Mark was Barnabas' cousin. Probably asked to accompany them in the first place, to gain some experience in the propagation of the Gospel to the non-Jews. In an apprenticeship the beginner does all the small tasks needed to complete the work properly. We see the same thing happening in the beginning of the book of Acts, when the Apostle asked for gifted men who were "full of the Holy Spirit", to settle the dispute between the Greek and Hebrew widows over the fairness of the ministry to them.

You can imagine the many daily tasks that needed to be done, that kept Mark out of the sight of the crowd. There was no accolade or recognition for him. At the end of a long day, where all went to sleep, Mark had to sit down and transcribe his notes into his continuing journal.

In verse 13 we read that "when those around Paul set sail from Paphos, Mark separated from them and returned to Jerusalem".

Here Saint Paul got upset. When his cousin later on wanted Mark to accompany them on their return, Saint Paul said: "No way!! He left us when we needed him, I do not trust him".

Barnabas also decided to leave Paul and join his cousin Mark. Barnabas thought a person who served well, surely must be filled with the Holy Spirit, and must be a big asset to the Church wherever he is.

The important things here are:

1. The Spirit of humility (Paul and Barnabas)
2. They let others take part in preaching.
3. The Parting, as the Holy Fathers saw it, was providential of the Holy Spirit.

The story did not end here for Mark as it does for Barnabas. Barnabas is not mentioned again in Paul's writing, but Mark is. He was inspired by Saint Paul and was converted by the kindness of his cousin Barnabas.

Later on in Paul's writing to his son in the faith Saint Timothy, he says:  "Make every effort to come and see me as soon as you can... only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you. I find him a useful helper in my ministry." (2Tim 4:9-11) This is a quite a turn-around for one who was considered unprofitable only a few years before. How did it happen that Saint Paul changed his mind?

Because Mark realised the truth of the lessons outlined above. He humbled himself under the Mighty hand of God.
In Saint Peter's first letter we read  "the church in Babylon, which is with you among the chosen, greets you, as does Mark, my son." (1 Pet.5:13)
Here we see him being good and beneficial to Saint Peter, enough for Saint Peter to call him "my son".

As a result of his humbleness and faithful service, Peter rewarded him in more ways then one. First of all Peter did not write a Gospel, St. Mark did. This Gospel is thought to be a true Gospel according to Saint Peter, because it is largely the same as the preaching of Saint Peter. And we know that Saint Mark wrote for Saint Peter.

The second reward of him humbling himself was being asked by Saint Paul to rejoin him, and being described by him as "a useful helper in my ministry". Humility is the key to success in the Christian life. We should all follow his example, and do the same as Saint Mark.

Metropolitan Paul Saliba

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