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 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.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.

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