The Word on the Week

Resigning Times

We have had a famine of resignations in Ireland but recently this has turned into, what for us, is something of a flood. Some have been voluntary like the two politicians who resigned this week. Others like the handful of Bishops whose resignations were involuntary came reluctantly. The reasons given by the politicians are somewhat obscure. In their explanations the temptation to wash someone else’s dirty linen in public proved too hard to resist. The Bishop’s suffered from the general blindness of society towards child abuse but since they knew about it they were faced with no alternative but to go. What exactly was the deciding factor that brought them to their decision may never be revealed. What was the straw that broke the camels back, the bridge too far, the action or word that triggered the letter of resignation? We may never know. What is certain is that none of them ever expected to end up this way. There are no resignations in the New Testament. The Apostles would have had plenty of grounds for taking that route. Their mandate was to be “fishers of men” and to experience the abundant life that Jesus offered. Indeed in the commissioning service did He not forecast that they would do greater things than he had done? A great future beckoned. Perhaps if they had not been arguing about who would get the top job in the new Kingdom they would have heard that suffering and service go together. The amount of hardship they suffered for simply doing their work would have had people today running to the Labour Court or the Rights Commissioner for redress! On the other hand if they had listened better they would have heard the bit about cross-bearing which Jesus modelled so graphically and realised that there is a close relationship between discipleship and martyrdom. Their message to “come and die” is not one to pull in the crowds. But this was the way they were to go – Jesus said it clearly. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Of course it was the love of Jesus, experienced by the presence of the Holy Spirit within them that gave them the confidence that indeed he would “never leave them nor forsake them”. In all their trials there was only young Mark who found the going a bit too tough and even he repented and joined Barnabas on a mission trip to Cyprus. None of them resigned or retired. Their Gospel told of a saviour who died so that sinners like you and me might be forgiven and rose from the dead to guarantee our future with Him in heaven. May we be granted a like faith to follow in their footsteps.