Today's Saint

St. Mark (Evangelist)

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Most of our knowledge about St. Mark, author of one of the four Gospels, comes directly from the New Testament. It is possible that the unnamed young man present at Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:51-52) was the evangelist himself; Mark is mentioned directly in several places in the Acts of the Apostles. He was the son of a Christian woman in Jerusalem named Mary; it was to her house that St. Peter fled following his miraculous escape from prison (12:12).

Mark was a cousin of St. Barnabas, and he accompanied Barnabas and St. Paul on one of their missionary journeys. However, Mark turned back for some unknown reason (12:25; 13:13); this prompted an angry St. Paul to refuse to take him along on his next journey. Mark instead went with Barnabas to preach the Good News in Cyprus (15:37-39). Eventually Mark was reconciled with St. Paul, whom he visited when the latter was imprisoned in Rome.

Mark probably wrote his gospel while in Rome, perhaps around the year 60. An early tradition identifies Mark as the interpreter or secretary of St. Peter; the Apostle’s recollections may indeed have been one of the sources of the gospel.

Lessons

1. Jesus once said, “Whoever sets his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the Kingdom” (Luke 9:62) — but the Lord also gives a second chance to those who fail. St. Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey, but later succeeded in his efforts to share the Good News.

2. Mark’s Gospel is blunt in describing the weaknesses and failures of the Apostles (and if the young man in 14:51-52 is the evangelist, he also includes something that was personally embarrassing); being a Christian requires a commitment to the truth — even when it is painful or disconcerting.

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