“Living the Will of the Father faithfully, being faithful to the missionary mandate of the Lord and making our lives the ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!’”
(Based on Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist)
It was a place named Bokalia, which means the place of cows, on the east of Alexandria in Egypt.
The Great Feast of Resurrection, that year, 68 A.D., coincided with the great pagan celebration of god Syrabis.
A huge multitude of the pagans, assembled and attacked the Church at Bokalia and forced their way in…
These targeted their chief enemy in that church…
… seized him
… bound him with a thick rope
… dragged him in the roads and streets
And they cried out, “Drag the dragon to the place of cows!”
They continued dragging him with severe cruelty.
His flesh was torn and scattered everywhere…
… the ground of the city was covered with his blood.
They cast him that night into a dark prison.
The next morning, the pagans were back to take him from the prison.
They tied his neck with a thick rope and did the same as the day before – dragging him over the rocks and stones.
Finally, this great warrior of God delivered up his pure soul in the hand of God…
… and received the crown of martyrdom…
… the Apostolic Crown, the Crown of Evangelism, and the Crown of Virginity.
Nevertheless, his death did not satisfy the rage of the pagans and their hatred.
They gathered much firewood and prepared an inferno to burn him.
However, a severe storm blew and heavy rains fell.
This frightened the pagans, and they fled away in fear.
The believers came and took the body, carried it to the church that they had built at Bokalia, wrapped it up, prayed over it, and placed in a coffin.
They laid the coffin in a secret place in this Church.
This is the heroic account of the martyrdom of St Mark, the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today.
It is to St Mark, the evangelist, that we owe, historically speaking, the first of the four Gospels.
Some of the distinct features and highlighting aspects of the Gospel of St Mark calls for our attention and reflection…
- The Gospel of St Mark is the shortest among all the four Gospel accounts.
It probably also has the highest tempo, in terms of the language used and the pace at which the whole Gospel account moves.
a. This invites us to reflect on the urgency of the Kingdom in our lives. The time and place of the coming of the Lord is unknown. (Mk 13: 35-37). Therefore, it places on us, the need to be ever watchful, on the guard and ready for action against the evil, with lives sanctified and purified.
b. This also invites to reflect on the shortness of our lives, and how each day and each moment of our life (like each chapter and verse of the Gospel), is to be lived solely for the sake of the Lord…
… and making our lives a “true Gospel”, giving witness to Jesus Christ, the Crucified Risen Lord, the Son of God (Mk 15:39)
- The Gospel of St Mark was most probably addressed originally to the persecuted and suffering Christians, of the early Church.
This meant to present Jesus, in the light of how He was able to withstand all pains, pressures and persecutions…
… in order to remain faithful to the Will of His Father and to the Kingdom Mission.
a. This invites us to fully embrace Jesus as the True Model for our lives. He is the Lord, who suffered immensely, took up every pain and bore every temptation, in order to remain faithful to His Father (Mk 14:36).
b. This also invites us to not be afraid of pains and sufferings in life and not to be bogged down by the illogicality of why things go absolutely haywire in our personal and societal lives.
Instead, we need to look up to Jesus, who was crucified, and even from the Cross, the final act of His obedience, cried out, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34)
- The Gospel of St Mark is, traditionally, greatly associated with the life of St Peter.
Therefore, this Gospel makes a clear attempt at revealing some of the crucial events, feelings and character of Peter.
It is an attempt, not to merely glorify Peter’s role; rather, it is also an account of how Peter, with all his failures and ‘foolishness’ was still accepted and moulded by Jesus, His patient Master
a. This invites us to face our own weaknesses and limitations of life boldly. Like St Peter, we too very often fall away, oppose the plans of God, be overly-zealous yet lazily lethargic and even betray the Lord. Yet, the Good Shepherd does not abandon us; instead goes ahead of us (Mk 16:7), to invite us “to make our life a beautiful one for Him”
b. This also invites us to not give up in life because of constant failures or be ashamed of our brokenness in life (Mk 14:72b). The Gospel of Mark is a parallel drama of the Glorifying Act of Jesus Christ and the Constantly Wavering Life of St Peter. The Gospel testifies that we are to glory not in our merits or prowess, rather to seek refuge in the wounds of Christ and to be totally dependent on the One who alone is to be our strength and guide.
Just like a lion, the Gospel of Mark brings out powerfully the life and teachings of Jesus, the Mighty Lion of Judah…
… mighty and bold
… fast and powerful,
… demanding and challenging.
The author, St Mark, himself was able to live up to be the witness and shed his blood for sake of the Great Lion of Judah!
Let us read this Gospel of St Mark…
… meditate on it..
… be challenged by it..
And strive to live the Will of the Father faithfully …
making our lives the…
… the “Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1)
… and be faithful to the missionary mandate of the Lord, as St Mark writes: “And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it!” (Mk 16:20)
Happy Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Halft an hour’s meditation each day is essential…
… except when you are busy!