26th April 2021
...is never mentioned...
Today the church commemorates
St Mark the Evangelist,
was the son of Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12)
whose home became a meeting place
for the apostles.
He was also the cousin of St. Barnabas
a Levite and a Cypriot.
From the Acts of the Apostles,
we learn that his Jewish name was John
but they called him by his Latin name 'Mark'.
Mark wrote his gospel between 60 and 70 A.D.
to encourage the Roman Christians
and to prove beyond doubt that Jesus is the Messiah.
Mark presents a rapid succession of
vivid pictures of Jesus in action,
his Gospel rushes on at breath taking pace.
It is interesting that Mark is
never mentioned by name in his own Gospel
indicating that he was not closely associated with
Jesus although some scholars believe that
the evangelist is speaking of himself when
describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane:
"Now a young man followed him wearing
nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
They seized him, but he left the cloth behind
and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51-52).
Like Luke, Mark was not one of the original Apostles,
and he probably never knew Jesus personally.
Instead, we believe that he was a member of
the first Christian community.
In his writings, Peter refers to Mark
as his "son.";
he may have used this term to show his love for Mark,
or he may have used it because he was the one
who baptized Mark.
It is believed that Peter was the
primary source for Mark's Gospel.
Mark joined Paul and Barnabas
on their first missionary journey to Antioch
in 44 A.D. When the group reached Cyprus,
Christian tradition says that Mark left them
and returned to Jerusalem,
possibly because he was missing his home
This incident may have caused Paul to question
whether Mark could be a reliable missionary
and later created a disagreement between
Paul and Barnabas leading Paul to refuse Mark's
accompaniment on their second journey to
the churches of Cilicia
and the rest of Asia Minor.
This point of contention caused Paul
and Barnabas to separate.
Barnabas went with Mark to Cyprus,
while Paul continued with Silas to Syria
thus increasing the spread of the gospel.
We know that they later made up and Paul spoke of him
affectionately as a 'co-worker for the Gospel'
(Col 4:10, 2 Tim 4:11).
Whatever the earlier differences were,
it was Mark that Paul wanted by his side
at the end of his life;
during his imprisonment in Rome,
Paul mentions Mark's concern for him
and writes about how helpful Mark is
in the ministry of helping others to believe
in Jesus (Colossians. 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Later, Mark founded the Church in Egypt
and he became bishop of Alexandria,
an important centre of trade and power
during ancient times.
He died there sometime between the years 68-74 AD
as a martyr for his belief in Jesus.
There are conflicting stories as to how he died;
one is he was set upon by a frenzied mob
of idol worshipers who pelted him with rocks
and dragged him through the streets to be cast
into a cell where he died for Christ of his wounds.
The other, that a rope was placed around his neck
and he was dragged through the streets until he was dead.
However it happened, it was a violent and painful death.
His relics were kept in Egypt
until they were transferred to Venice
where they are venerated till this day.
St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice.
The symbol for Mark is a lion with wings.
That is because his Gospel begins with the story of
John the Baptist, a "voice crying in the wilderness" (Mark 1:3),
like the roaring of a lion.
He is often depicted as writing or
holding his Gospel.
He is sometimes shown as a bishop
on a throne or as a man helping Venetian sailors.
Mark fulfilled in his life what every Christian
is called to do:
to proclaim to all people the Good News of
Jesus our Saviour.
Mark's message is that Jesus is the greatest;
God incarnate, our Messiah -
yet he entered this world as a servant.
There is much to learn from studying Mark's life -
and much encouragement, for he didn't always get things right,
but he remained faithful and
brought many people to belief in Jesus.
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Days of Elijah.'
sung by Robin Mark
via the link shown below.