Thought for the Day by Nigel Greenwood (St Chad’s)
Reflection on St Mark
Today, we celebrate the life of Mark, who wrote the earliest and shortest Gospel and is reputed to be the first author to use the title ‘Gospel’, although much of his writing is regarded as being influenced by Peter. Mark is credited with founding and becoming the first Bishop in the Church in Alexandria (which was prominent in early Christianity). Mark lived from AD 5-68, born in Cyrene and martyred in Alexandria for turning the city against their pagan gods. Often shown writing or holding his Gospel, Mark was also symbolised as a winged lion. His Gospel is widely regarded as a primary and reliable source of information on Christ’s life and times, with Matthew and Luke likely to have drawn from it. Today’s passage from Acts tells something of the early church, with Mark also known as John.
Mark’s Gospel starts with the proclamation by John the Baptist about the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God – quoting the famous verse from Isaiah: ‘prepare the way for the Lord, make straight for him.’ John’s own ministry was in every sense a preparation, recognising that whilst he baptised with water, the one who followed would baptise with the Holy Spirit.
The focus of Mark is clearly upon Christ’s ministry, as by the end of chapter one we have heard about His baptism, testing in the wilderness, proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom, calling of the disciples, driving out of the impure spirit, healing many people, praying in solitary and healing of the man with leprosy. Much of the detail relating to the early life of Jesus covered by Matthew and Luke in the other Synoptic Gospels is omitted by Mark and it is only in Christ’s healing ministry and events leading to his arrest, trail and crucifixion that more detail is covered – before Mark’s Gospel ends rather abruptly with the empty tomb.
The iconic cathedral in Venice is dedicated to St Mark, who also has an important legacy as a Patron Saint – including lawyers, prisoners, opticians, pharmacists, painters, secretaries, interpreters or glaziers. As one who spread the message and teachings of Jesus Christ, Mark is also widely regarded as ‘Mark the Evangelist’.
Perhaps you would like to pause and reflect on the life and legacy of St Mark to this excerpt from Bach’s St Mark Passion …..