Advice for the Younger (and Older) Members of the Community
Homily for the Feast of St. Mark
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has the entire text of the Bible on their website. You can either read the Bible chapter by chapter, or you can simply read the readings for each day on the calendar. When I looked up the reading from the First Letter of St. Peter that is proclaimed today on the Feast of St. Mark, I have to say that I was a little amused by the fact that today’s reading is listed as “Advice to the Younger Members of the Community.” After thinking about it for a little while, I must admit that as an older member of the community I thought that the advice to clothe ourselves with humility might have been directed toward the younger members because they lacked some experience in dealing with the problems of the day. Those of us who are older may be a little more aware of our shortcomings because of our life experience. Most of us have probably been told about our shortcomings by more than one person.
St. Peter also advises the younger members of the community to be sober and vigilant, to be aware that the devil is prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour. This particular verse used to be read every night in compline. Perhaps this warning is appropriate for the younger members because we older members usually go to bed early.
However, we all know that all of us, both the younger members and the older members, need to be careful about humility and about the temptations of the devil. I remember that as a young man, an older friar once told me the devil would not stop tempting him until he was dead. Now that I have become one of the older members, I know how wise he was.
St. Peter begins this section of the letter with the word “Beloved.” He wanted to remind both the young and the old that God loved them. He knew that by using that word, he made his advice a little bit more palatable and that being reminded of God’s love would soften our hearts and make it a little easier to accept his advice. It is obvious that the church uses this particular reading today because it mentions St. Mark. Be that as it may, the wisdom of St. Peter’s advice is always appropriate.