The Rev’d Penny Body
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Reflection Monday 25th April 2022
5Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!”* and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
9 ‘As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. 10And the good news* must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Today is the festival of Mark the evangelist and so unsurprisingly our gospel today comes from Mark. In it, among other things, Mark records Jesus saying “…do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit”.
And if we were celebrating today with a Holy Communion service, the post communion prayer set for the day also looks forward to the day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel.
In both the gospel reading and the prayer, the imperative is that the gospel – the good news of Jesus – needs to be preached to all people and nations.
Now it is our turn – and we are the ones who have the honour, privilege, joy and boldness to preach the gospel in our time and place.
But how often do we find ourselves unsure or concerned about what to say about God – or about Jesus – when we are asked a question about him – or when we want to comfort someone with the knowledge of God’s love – or speak words of peace into a conflict situation or hope and light into the darkness? And it can feel especially difficult these days when we can sometimes be made to feel we have to keep our faith hidden for fear of offending someone. Though I doubt our situations are ever as severe as those of the early apostles and disciples being handed over to the councils and beaten in the synagogues because of our preaching.
But as we celebrate the gospel writing today of Mark, and think of all the evangelists down the ages, who have brought the good news to our generation, we can take heart. We don’t need to worry. We can have the confidence to say whatever is given us in the moment that we need it – for it will be the Holy Spirit speaking from within us and he will put the words we need in our mouths.
We celebrate the day of Pentecost in a few weeks’ time – in fact this year it coincides with our Queen’s Jubilee weekend so we shall have a double celebration – but we have no need to wait.
God’s Holy Spirit is with us always – he is here – he is with us and within us – only ever as far away as our listening ears and prayerful hearts – and he will always give us the words we need to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Amen.
Collect for the Festival of St Mark
who enlightened your holy Church
through the inspired witness of your evangelist Saint Mark:
grant that we, being firmly grounded in the truth of the gospel,
may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen