Today’s readings give us the “GoodCop/BadCop” treatment in sending out the word of God. Paul, as usual, is the bad cop. He tells his men “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” John is the good cop in the second reading, telling us of a God who will “wipe away every tear,” and will eliminate death, mourning, wailing and pain.
I say Paul is usually BadCop because of how we know he felt about Mark when Paul and Barnabas took him out on their first mission together. Mark couldn’t take the hardship of the road so went back home to Jerusalem. Paul was disgusted. Barnabas was actually the GoodCop in taking Mark under his wing and strengthening his faith. Paul would later treat Mark like a son.
But it’s interesting to get a glimpse of these tough early days of recruiting troops to spread the gospel. I’m sure many of us would have been like Mark and would have lost our motivation, knowing the enemies they faced and the difficulties of traveling in that environment and telling the bare naked truth. We all need a Barnabas to give us courage and bring us back to what we know must be done. And we all need a Paul to smack us in the head once in a while to toughen up our faith.
Both GoodCop and BadCop are manifestations of God’s love for us, and we must use the courage we get from that love to share it with all we know. As Jesus said in today’s gospel, that’s how all will know we are his disciples.