Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist
April 25, 2020
Today, in Mercy, we celebrate Saint Mark the Evangelist.
Who exactly that person was hides in the mists of early Church history. Several possible “Marks” are mentioned at various points in the New Testament. Whether they are the same or different persons and which, if any, is the author of Mark’s Gospel are questions scripture detectives have chased for centuries.
What the readings offer us today is a young man whom Peter loved and who absorbed the Good News under Peter’s own tutelage.
In today’s passage from Acts, Peter writes to Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor at the time of the persecutions. His teaching is clearly that of the universal leader of the Church helping the scattered flock to hold on to the faith.
Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith,
knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world
undergo the same sufferings.
It isn’t hard to read these ancient words and imagine Pope Francis speaking them to all of us across the empty reaches of St. Peter’s Square. The suffering of the pandemic tests our faith and resolve. It too is a crucible which can either deepen or fracture our relationship with God.
Peter’s assurance can strengthen us:
The God of all grace
who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you
after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen.
Mark, who sat at the feet of Peter’s strong and loving leadership, himself went on to become a devoted leader of Christ’s flock. How Mark must have cherished Peter’s brave and tender words to the young suffering Church and harkened back to them so often over the course of his life:
The chosen one (early Christian code for “the whole Church”)
sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with a loving kiss.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
That gracious “kiss” from Peter carried the the love and power of every Christian, just as we carry it today in our constant prayer for and encouragement of one another.
Music: He Will Make You Strong – hymn based on 1 Peter