Feast of St Mark the Evangelist-Mark 16:15-20

 On your mark, get set…… Feast of St Mark the Evangelist-Mark 16:15-20

References to St. Mark are peppered through the New Testament. He is first encountered immediately after St James has been martyred (Chapter 12) in the Acts of the Apostles and he is referred to as John Mark. Luke who is the author of Acts records this in context of Peter’s release from prison. On realising that he was not dreaming about his release from prison, Peter “went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark.” Mark’s home was the home of refuge for many for we are told that “many had gathered there in prayer.” The epistles of saints Peter and Paul also refer to Mark simply as “Mark”. It is Mark who wrote the first Gospel and later became the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt.

From scripture we know that Mark plays an important role in the Church. He is made mention of in the travels of St Paul and Barnabas who was a close associate of Paul.   After their mission in Antioch (Acts 12:25) Barnabas and Paul return to Jerusalem with Mark.  Mark, however, did not complete his travels with these apostles, eventually causing a significant falling out between Paul and Barnabas: And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are. “And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.

 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord [Acts 13:36-40]. One reason Barnabas may have been more favourably disposed to Mark is that he was his cousin, as we learn from Paul’s letters.

 We are told that Mark and Paul finally reconciled and we read this in Colossians where Paul writes, “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, receive him)” [Col. 4:10]. This shows Mark at a later point as a functioning member of the circle of Paul’s companions, indicating an eventual reconciliation. The reconciliation was apparently long-lasting, because he mentions Mark again in 2 Timothy, written shortly before his death in A.D. 67, where he says: Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me [2 Tim. 4:11].

St Peter too makes a reference to Mark. At the end of 1 Peter, the apostle mentions him briefly in the same passage where he indicates he is writing from Rome (i.e., “Babylon”) She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen [i.e., the church of Rome], sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark [1 Pet. 5:13].This indicates that Mark had become not only a valuable member of Paul’s circle but also someone personally close to Peter–a theme picked up on in the Church Fathers.

 Compiled from notes by Jimmy Akin

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