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Mark, the First to Write the Good News

Updated: May 13

by Joel V. Ocampo

Every year, on April 25, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Mark, one of the Four Evangelists. The Gospel according to Mark was the first to be written. Thanks to him, we have a written record of the ministry of our Lord.


The word “evangelist” is the name given to the writers of the inspired message, known as the Gospel or Good News brought and proclaimed by Jesus. While the word “gospel” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term “god-spell”, meaning “good story,” a version of the Latin “evangelium” and the Greek “euangelion”, meaning “good news” or “good telling.”According to the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition (2004), the Four Evangelists are sometimes depicted in art according to the symbolism suggested by St. Ambrose and according to the vision of Ezekiel (1:10) and John (Rev. 4:7):

  • MATTHEW is represented by a MAN (other artists use angel) because he begins his Gospel with Christ’s GENEALOGY;

  • MARK is represented by the LION because he begins his Gospel with the Baptizer’s message proclaimed in the WILDERNESS;

  • LUKE is represented by the OX because the SACRIFICE offered by Zechariah is recorded in the opening verses in his Gospel; and

  • JOHN is represented by the EAGLE because of the sublime HEIGHTS reached in his prologue.

MARK, ONE OF THE FIRST MISSIONARIES

In the New Testament, we read that St. Mark the Evangelist is a cousin of St. Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). Many Bible scholars also say that he is the same “John Mark” who accompanied the apostle Paul on his first journey (Acts 12:25). He owns thehouse that also served as meeting place for the first Christian community (Acts 12:12). Mark was described as “my fellow worker” by St. Paul in Philemon 1:24. Soon afterwards, he became a disciple of St. Peter, and the Gospel he wrote is told from Peter’s point of view. Being a member of a wealthy family, it is said that Mark was able to study. Thus, he acted as the interpreter of St. Peter when he preached the Good News in Rome. St. Peter describe Mark as “my son” (1 Peter 5:13).

Mark was credited with founding the Church in Alexandria. He died as a martyr for Jesus, whom he described in the Gospel as “the Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1). His body was stolen from Alexandria in year 828 and taken to Venice, Italy which adopted him as its patron saint.

MARK’S SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL

The Gospel according to Mark has two main parts. The first verse is the summary: “the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1).

First, Jesus the Christ

From Mark 1:1 to 8:30, the author slowly reveals Jesus as the “Christ” or “Messiah.” Jesus was first introduced as healer ofsickness and devil possessions, but he ordered the devils and those whom he cured to keep quiet or tell no one about him (Mk. 1:25, 34, 44). The finale of this first section will be Peter’s confession about Jesus. In this story, Peter (a Jew) confessed saying “You are the Messiah [or Christ]” (Mk. 8:29).

Second, Jesus the Son of God

The second part, Mark 11:1 onwards reveals Jesus as the “Son of God”. The Son of God, welcomed by the people in Jerusalem who spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields, crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”(Mk. 11:8-9). The culmination of this section will be the confession of the Roman centurion, a Pagan at the foot of the cross. St. Mark recorded, “When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’” (Mk. 15:39).

The on the Way Section

Between the two sections, the so called “on the way section” can be found. In the Gospel written by St. Mark, Jesus started His mission in Galilee, the Northern part of Israel (Mk. 1:14). He travels from Galilee to Jerusalem where they will put Him to death, but after three days He will rise (Mk. 10:34). In this “on the way section”, Jesus is no longer in Galilee but not yet in Jerusalem. If we read the Bible, we’ll see the line “on the way” or something similar to it (Mk. 8:27; 9:33; 10:17; 10:32; at 10:52).

CALL TO MISSION

Like St. Mark who was blessed to acquire education, and helped St. Peter and St. Paul in the ministry, let us also use our God-given charisms in building the Church, the Body of Christ. Let us use these selected passages lifted from the Gospel written by St. Mark as our inspiration…

  1. Serve the sick – “Jesus came and took Simon’s mother-in-law by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them” (Mark 1:31).

  2. Do not treat other with loathing or contempt – “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’” (Mark 1:41).

  3. Be an instrument of forgiveness – “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk. 2:5).

  4. Bring Jesus to the family – “Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you” (Mk. 5:19).

  5. “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be open” (Mk. 7:34) and sensitive to the needs of other people, especially the poor in the community.

  6. Love and respect other religion – “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk. 9:40).

  7. Be generous – “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mk. 10:21).

  8. Be the one who serve – “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45).

  9. “Have faith in God” (Mk. 11:22).

  10. Go out and proclaim the good news everywhere” (Mk. 16:20).

ALL FOR JESUS

Finally, St. Mark recorded in the on the way section the story of The Rich Man (Mk. 10:17-22). This man knelt down before Jesus, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus told him, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me,” the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. St. Mark wrote, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” The Lord, did not judged him. He is like saying, “You’re not yet ready to give up your possessions? It’s okey. I’ll wait for you.” When Jesus was arrested, St. Mark recorded “a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked (Mk. 14:51-52). In one of our Bible studies, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the CBCP,and one of the Bible scholars of the country, shared that this unnamed man could be the rich man in Mark 10. He said, “If before he cannot leave his possessions, at Jesus’ passion, the rich man left everything and followed Jesus.” The rich man left everything, all for Jesus. In addition, some Bible scholar believethat this was actually St. Mark. This funny story served as his signature in his written work.

PRAYER TO ST. MARK

O Glorious St. Mark through the grace of God, our Father, you became a great Evangelist, preaching the Good News of Christ. May you help us to know Him well so that we may faithfully live our lives as followers of Christ. Amen.

St. Mark the Evangelist, pray for us.

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