Austin Farrer on St Mark

Happy is the man who learns from his own failures. He certainly won’t learn from any one else’s. Here I am on a safe ground, for you are all failures, are you not? when it comes to serving God. So there is no fear of my missing my target in any of you, and especially, perhaps, just at the end of a vacation. Vacations tend to be spiritual disappointments. It is humiliating how, when you get back into your families, childish faults of temper reassert themselves which you hoped you had outgrown; humiliating how, as soon as you lose the encouraging company of your Christian friends here, your religion languishes. You have not prayed nor worked nor controlled yourself as you hoped to do. God has given you much; you have not given anything worth mentioning to God. Well, St Mark went back from the work in Pamphylia (if he is indeed the same man), and in Gethsemane none of the disciples behaved with credit. It is by these desolating experiences that God teaches us to trust him, not ourselves. The more emptied out you are, the more hope there is of your learning to be a Christian. Now is the very moment—there will never be a better—for you to put your trust in the God who makes something from nothing, who raises the dead.

preached in Trinity College Chapel, Oxford

From “St Mark,” in The Essential Sermons, (SPCK, 1991), 68.

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