St. Mark the Evangelist ~ The Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI
St Mark was one of the disciples of Jesus and an Evangelist who was the author of the Second Gospel in the New Testament (The Gospel of Mark). This is believed to been written by Mark (also sometimes named in the scriptures as John Mark), probably in Rome before the year 60 AD. Mark was an African and was born in Cyrene in Libya and was the child of Jewish parents who belonged to the Levites tribe. They lived in Cyrene until they were attacked by some barbarians which resulted in the loss of their property. So his parents and their son John Mark moved to Jerusalem (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37). Mark received a good background education and became conversant in the languages of Greek, Latin as well as Hebrew.
Mark came from a very religious family and they had a close relationship with our Lord Jesus. Mark`s cousin was Barnabas and Peter was his father`s cousin.
Mary, Mark`s mother, was an important person in the development of the early days of the church in Jerusalem. It is believed that it was Mary`s upper room that became the first Christian church and was also the place where our Lord Jesus Christ himself instituted the Holy Eucharist (Mk 14:12=26). This was also the place in which the Lord appeared to his disciples after his resurrection and where the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Mark is mentioned in the scriptures in several events including that he was present at the wedding of Cana of Galilee and he was also the jar carrier when two disciples went to prepare a place for the feast of Passover (Mk 14:13=14, Lk 22:11). At first, Mark accompanied Peter on his missionary journeys inside the regions of Jerusalem and Judea. Later, he accompanied both Peter and Barnabas on their first missionary journey to Antioch, Cyprus and Asia Minor but for some reason Mark left them and returned home (Acts 13:13).
When Peter and Barnabas were due to travel on their second journey, Peter refused for Mark to travel with them due to his leaving them on their previous journey, so Barnabas decided to travel with Mark to Cyprus where Barnabas was called home to the Lord and was buried by Mark.
Later, Mark was needed by Paul so both he and Paul traveled and preached together in Colosse (Col 4:10), Rome (Phil 24:2, Tim 4:11) and also possibly, though this not certain, to Venice. Mark had his real labours in Africa. He left Rome and traveled to Pentapolis and after planting there the seed of faith and performing several miracles, he proceeded to Egypt and then on to Alexandria.Upon returning to Alexandria in 65 AD, Mark finding his people firm in faith, revisited Pentapolis where he spent two years preaching, performing miracles, ordaining both bishops and priests as well as winning more converts into faith.
Finally, Mark once again returned to Alexandria and there he was overjoyed to find that the number of Christians had flourished to the extent that they were able to build a considerably sized church in the suburban district of Baucalis.
In 68 AD, Easter fell on the same day as the Seraphis feast and an angry mob descended upon the Christians who had gathered in the Seraphis temple. The mob seized Mark and dragged him by a rope through the streets of the city before throwing him into prison at nightfall. Whilst in the prison Mark saw the vision of an angel and this strengthened him. The next day, again Mark was taken and dragged through the streets of the city, this time until his death. Christians stole his body and secretly buried him in a grave under the altar of the church.
Mark was an evangelist for our Lord. He traveled and preached the Good news of Our Lord Jesus Christ far and wide. As Children of God and as Christians, we can take the example of the life of St. Mark and also become the evangelists for the Lord that we indeed ought to be. As the Word of the Lord himself tells us in Mk 16:15, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Let us pray:
Lord, help us to follow in the footsteps of St Mark and to love you so totally and completely, desiring only your will in our lives. Help us to hear your voice and to be guided by the Holy Spirit to do all that you ask of us. Amen.
Through the prayer and intercession of St. Mark on our behalf, may the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us. Amen.
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