By Tom Peterson
©2000 by Thomas H. Peterson
In April, our liturgical calendar remembers St. Mark, who is generally believed to be the author of the earliest Synoptic Gospel bearing that name. This gospel is estimated to have been written about 70 A.D. The early second century writer, Papias was of the opinion that the Gospel of Mark was the "interpretation" of St. Peter's version of the life of Christ. St. Peter certainly refers to him as "my son, Mark" in 1 Peter 5:13. He is also sometimes known as John Mark.
Traditionally, Mark has been said to be the young man whose garment is stripped from him in the narrative of the events of that horrible night in the Garden of Gethsemene recounted in Mark 14:51. Although there is no hard evidence, it has often been held that the "upper room" in which Jesus and His disciples shared their Last Supper was in the home of Mark's parents. Mark's mother, Mary was certainly one of the followers of Jesus and a friend of the disciples and provided a meeting place for them (Acts 12:12).
According to Colossians 4:10, Mark was a relative of St. Barnabas. It is sometimes thought that both Mark and Barnabas were two of the seventy-two sent out by Jesus (Luke 10:1). Whatever else tradition may have accorded to Mark, he accompanied Barnabas on a missionary journey to Cyprus (Acts 15:39) and is certainly mentioned several times in the New Testament (See, for example, Acts 12:25, 13:5, 13, 15:37, Colossians 4:10, Philemon 24 and 2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark was in Rome with Saints Peter and Paul, but managed to escape the Neronian persecution. Afterward we are informed by the historian Eusebius that Mark went to Egypt where he was instrumental in founding the Alexandrian Church. He is said to have been martyred there by an angry pagan mob. We honor him on April 25th, which is two*(9) days after we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord this year. You will recall that it is in the longer ending of St. Mark's Gospel that the disciples of Jesus received the Great Commission. As we celebrate Easter this year, let's remember also St. Mark, the Evangelist. Then let's resolve to carry out this Great Commission by going out among all in the world around us to spread the glorious news that the Word which was in the beginning is risen indeed, has conquered death in our behalf and has taught us to live the Two Greatest Commandments: that we love the Lord with all our hearts and our neighbors as we love ourselves. May your Easter be truly blessed. +