On Wednesday we celebrate the feast of St. Mark. Mark, called John Mark in Acts and referred to as: "Mark my son" in 1 Peter, was a Hellenic Jew in the Jerusalem community and a cousin of Barnabas as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians. Mark is best known to us as the author of one of the four gospels. In fact, the oldest and shortest of the gospels is attributed to Mark who was a disciple of St. Peter. In the early second century a writer known as Papias of Hieropolis quoted an early presbyter: "When Mark became Peter's interpreter, he wrote down accurately, although not in order, all that he remembered of what the Lord had said or done." Papias then stated:" for Mark had not heard or followed the Lord, but later, as I said, he heard and followed Peter, who used to adapt his teaching to the needs of the moment without making any sort of arrangement of the Lord's oracles. Consequently, Mark made no mistake in thus writing down certain things as he remembered them. For he was careful not to omit or falsify anything of what he had heard."
Mark's gospel tells us that the age of salvation prophesied in the Old Testament is here "as is written in Isaiah the prophet." It begins with the teaching of John the Baptist, and is taken up by Jesus. Then it is continued by the disciples and entrusted to the Church as a mission, calling all to salvation. The call is one of repentance and proclamation of good news, as Jesus proclaims God's kingdom. Furthermore, the ministry of Jesus is a revelation of his own identity. The kingdom of God will come about through the teaching of Jesus and all are invited to be a part of it. Even the miracles of Jesus are part of his teaching and announcement that the kingdom is here.
We understand that the disciples did not comprehend the mystery of Jesus' person any more than did the Pharisees or Jesus' own relatives and townspeople except gradually. During this Easter season we see the Risen Lord coming to be known and accepted gradually, from the first meeting with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus to his final departure and ascension into heaven. Mark was privileged to proclaim the gospel, and, as we pray on his feast day: "we ask that we profit from his wisdom and follow Christ more faithfully and more fruitfully."
Fr John R. Mulvehill