25 April 2017
Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist
In the garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus was being arrested, St. Mark tells us that “a young man followed [Jesus] wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” [Mk 14:51]. And there’s general agreement among Scripture scholars that the young man is Mark himself.
Now, Mark ended up traveling with St. Paul on his missionary journeys, and then became a disciple of St. Peter, and eventually spread the Gospel message to Egypt, where he founded the first Christian Church in Alexandria. It was also there that he was martyred by having a rope tied around his neck and being dragged through the city streets until he was dead.
St. Mark had made a significant change in his life. The first time he was seized for being a disciple of Jesus, he ran away in fear. But the last time he was seized, he let it happen out of love for Jesus and the Gospel. And it’s that kind of witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus that kept the flame of faith alive in people’s hearts for generations upon generations.
Even today, if someone were to ask us why we have faith, a solid answer is: Because of all those early Christians, like St. Mark, who reoriented their whole lives around Christ and were not afraid to die in order to share the good news. We have faith because they thought Jesus’ message of hope and love was important enough to die for.
Thanks be to God for those early Christians whose preaching still brings people to faith, even today. Thanks be to God for their words, their actions, their devotion to the Crucified and Risen Lord.