Feast of St. Mark
Father Dominic Mary, MFVA
Our Lady of the Angels Monastery,
7am Mass, April 25, 2008
St. Mark 16:15-20
1. Go out to the whole world, and preach the Gospel to all creation, alleluia (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Mark 16:15).
2. There were only four of them, and today the universal Church celebrates the feast day of one of them. God chose only four men to be evangelists, i.e., to author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, an account of our Lord’s life. On this day, therefore, in which we honor St. Mark we know of him mostly through his authorship of the second Gospel, i.e., the Gospel according to St. Mark.
3. He is known as:
a. “Mark” (in Acts 15:39)
b. “John” (in Acts 13:5-13)
c. “John Mark” (in Acts 12:12 and 15:37)
d. John = his Jewish name; Mark = his Hellenized Latin name }– this was a common practice during this time period
4. St. Mark was the cousin and disciple of St. Barnabas, as well as the disciple of St. Peter and St. Paul.
5. His mother’s name was Mary, a well to do widow in Jerusalem who provided her house as a meeting place for the early Christians.
6. Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on St. Paul’s First Missionary Journey, but returned home before the journey was over, rubbing St. Paul in a bad way. Approximately 10 years later we find him in Rome as St. Peter’s secretary and interpreter. Mark translated St. Peter’s Aramaic preaching into Greek and Latin. Later on Paul and Mark will work together again in apparent harmony, for Paul will call him very useful in spreading the Gospel (cf. 2 Tim 4:11) and a source of great consolation (cf. Col 4:10ff) because of his fidelity.
7. Eventually St. Mark ended founding the Church of Alexandria in Egypt, where he died as a martyr. His relics are currently venerated in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
8. What about his Gospel?
9. The intended audience he wrote for were the gentile Christians living in Rome at the time.
10. In a general way, the Gospel of Mark can be seen as a detailed development of St. Peter’s discourses in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 2:22-26; 3:12-26; 10:36-43), and so it is a like a living mirror of St. Peter’s preaching.
11. Therefore, Mark is known as the “mouthpiece of St. Peter” since St. Peter was St. Mark’s main source for the story of Jesus’ life. St. Peter refers to him as my son Mark in his First Letter (cf. 1 Peter 5:13). It is quite possible that St. Peter baptized him and that he actually was an eyewitness to some of the events in the life of Jesus. For only in Mark’s Gospel do we find the account of the young man who followed Jesus after he had been arrested and how the linen cloth about his body had been left behind as the authorities tried to seize him (cf. Mark 14:51-52). As some Scripture Scholars phrase it, this little recorded episode is, in a way, a kind of “signature” of St. Mark to his authorship of the second Gospel.
12. Mark tells the story of Jesus’ life in a straightforward way; as “on the move”; interested in what Jesus did.
13. The first words of his Gospel very boldly affirm the divinity of Christ, for it reads: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1).
a. This statement — that Jesus is the Son of God — is key to understanding the whole of St. Mark’s Gospel. For if one does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, then he will never be able to understand the Gospel.
b. When it comes down to it, we must be able to see Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man. If we deny His divinity or His humanity we fall into error.
c. All the works, miracles, teaching and words of Jesus recorded by St. Mark authenticate the very fact of His Divine Sonship.
d. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, St. Mark, at the end of his Gospel, provides a summary of the Gospel, creating a bookend with the first verse. For it is the recorded statement of the Roman Centurion on Calvary: And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39).
— Navarre Bible: St. Mark, “Introduction.”
— Understanding the Scriptures, part of the Didache Series from the Midwest Theological Forum, Scott Hahn, ch. 17.
— Ignatius Study Bible: St. Mark, “Introduction.”
— Collegeville Bible Study: The Gospel According to Mark — Text and Commentary, cf. Mark 1:1.