Be Like Mark: The Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist~The Rev Dcn Scott Brown, OPI

Today we celebrate St. Mark the Evangelist.  So who was he and why do we celebrate him?  The short answer is, we really don’t know.  According to Wikipedia, we have this:  

According to William Lane (1974), an “unbroken tradition” identifies Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, and John Mark as the cousin of Barnabas. However, Hippolytus of Rome in On the Seventy Apostles distinguishes Mark the Evangelist (2 Tim 4:11), John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37), and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10; Phlm 1:24). According to Hippolytus, they all belonged to the “Seventy Disciples” who were sent out by Jesus to disseminate the gospel (Luke 10:1ff.) in Judea.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea (Eccl. Hist. 2.9.1–4), Herod Agrippa I, in his first year of reign over the whole of Judea (AD 41), killed James, son of Zebedee and arrested Peter, planning to kill him after the Passover. Peter was saved miraculously by angels, and escaped out of the realm of Herod (Acts 12:1–19). Peter went to Antioch, then through Asia Minor (visiting the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, as mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1), and arrived in Rome in the second year of Emperor Claudius (AD 42; Eusebius, Eccl, Hist. 2.14.6). Somewhere on the way, Peter encountered Mark and took him as travel companion and interpreter. Mark the Evangelist wrote down the sermons of Peter, thus composing the Gospel according to Mark (Eccl. Hist. 15–16), before he left for Alexandria in the third year of Claudius (AD 43).

According to the Acts 15:39, Mark went to Cyprus with Barnabas after the Council of Jerusalem.

According to tradition, in AD 49, about 19 years after the Ascension of Jesus, Mark travelled to Alexandria and founded the Church of Alexandria – today, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and the Coptic Catholic Church trace their origins to this original community. Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Mark himself.  He became the first bishop of Alexandria and he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.

According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 2.24.1), Mark was succeeded by Anianus as the bishop of Alexandria in the eighth year of Nero (62/63), probably, but not definitely, due to his coming death. Later Coptic tradition says that he was martyred in 68.

Isn’t it fitting that the readings for today are all about pride and being humble and submitting to God’s will.   We have an example of that in St. Mark.  Here you go:

1 Peter 5:5-14 New International Version

5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 12 With the help of Silas,[b] whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. In verses 5,6, and 7 Peter wants us to know that God wants us to clothe ourselves in humility because as Proverbs 3:34 says: God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud. St. Augustine said: “It was Pride that changed angels into devils, it is humility that makes men as angels.”  What is Pride? Pride is the excessive belief in one’s own abilities that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. Its has been called the sin from which all other sins arise. Pride is also known as Vanity. It is certainly good to have pride in one’s country, community, and in oneself, but when taken too far these virtues become sins. Trust in God, realize that we are nothing and God is everything. Realize that God is in charge, not us. Trust in God, not yourself because we are proud when we trust in ourselves. When we humble ourselves in these ways, we are worthy of Gods grace.   In verses 8-11 Peter tells us to be clear minded, alert during hardships and difficult times as this is when Satan is posed to attack. When we are weak, fearful, and in doubt is when the Devil is at his strongest. He is like a lion on the prowl devouring everything he can. If you knew that a deadly lion had escaped from a zoo and was wandering around your neighborhood, you would not be standing in your front yard. N., you would be inside with your doors and windows locked. Resist him and stand firm in your faith. Know that others are resisting him with you.  In conclusion verses 12-14, Peter wants us to take away these points:  •             Prepare your minds for action, and do not conform to the passions of this world. •             Know that you are God’s holy people, chosen, precious, and valuable. •             Live honorably, and resist the Devil. •             Don’t be surprised that you suffer for the name of Jesus. People will be surprised that you do not act like them. •             Don’t be ashamed of that suffering. Place your trust in God who judges justly, just like Jesus did. •             Humble yourselves because God gives grace to the humble, not to those who trust in themselves during hard times.

Let us all live so as to follow the example of St Mark.  Let us pray:

O Almighty God, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of thy Evangelist Saint Mark: Give us grace, that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of thy holy Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.