The Gospel reading for the Feast of St. Mark is Mark 16:15-20. 

Following their mysterious encounter with Christ on the road to Emmaus and revealing Himself in the Eucharist, Cleopas (the brother of St. Joseph; Jesus’ uncle) and another disciple (likely his wife, Mary – John 19:2) rush 7 miles to Jerusalem in the dark of night to tell the Eleven Apostles in the Upper Room. The Apostles refuse to believe and later, Christ suddenly appears in the Upper Room and “upbraided (Greek: oneidizó, meaning, a harsh, angry rebuke that brings disgrace) them for their unbelief and hardness of heart” for their disbelief (Omitted from today’s Liturgy – Mark 16:14).  

After rebuking the Apostles for their unbelief, Christ assures them of His mercy by commissioning them to preach the Gospel to “all the world…the whole Creation.” Christ confirms the absolute requirement of belief for all converts and that those who refuse or fail to believe in Christ’s Gospel are condemned. Christ’s promise of extraordinary gifts given to some disciples through the Holy Spirit (signs of casting out demons, speaking in new tongues, etc.) comes to pass (Acts 2:1-13, 1 Cor 12:1-12). After instructing the Apostles, Christ ascends to the right hand of the Father.  

Tradition holds that John Mark (called Mark) was the son of Cleopas and Mary (who were on the road to Emmaus) and is the author of the Gospel of Mark. Also a cousin of Barnabas, Mark was a Jewish priest prior to becoming a follower of Christ and had close working relationships with both Paul and Peter. The Gospel of Mark is said to be Peter’s Gospel, written down by Mark at Peter’s direction; Peter calls Mark, his “son” (1 Pet 5:13). After Peter and Paul are martyred, tradition holds that Mark traveled to present day Egypt and founded the Catholic Church in Alexandria; he was martyred by pagans in 68 AD.  St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice and his relics continue to be venerated there in the Basilica of St. Mark. 

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ forms and directs the Apostles to spread the Gospel throughout the world.  Divine Prophet, Christ accurately reveals the coming supernatural powers that will be granted to the disciples. Son of God, Christ is drawn into Heaven in the Ascension and sits at the right hand of the Father. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Rather than the sweet feminized Jesus promoted in modern translations, the original Greek often confirms that Christ is a tough, no-nonsense leader. Consider Christ’s harsh reproach of the fearful, unbelieving Apostles in the Upper Room; “fear of the Lord”, a Gift of the Holy Spirit, is appropriate. 

2) While on mission in Asia Minor, Paul and Barnabas have a falling out over Mark and split up (Acts 15:36-41); later, Paul and Mark were reconciled (2 Tim 4:11). During Easter, reflect upon Reparation (CCC 1459-1460, 1494, 2412, 2487) and ask Christ to help you make amends and be reconciled with those with whom you remain in conflict over some past sin. St. Mark, pray for us! 

3) In busyness and distractions of the world, men forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.