Reflection on “Saint Mark The Lionhearted”

By Veronica Openibo, SHCJ

Mark the Evangelist, whose feast day is celebrated on April 25, is traditionally known as the author of the Gospel of Mark. He is the preacher of the Christian faith in Africa and is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria.

Some scholars say he is Mark the cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10), who went on a missionary journey with Barnabas and Paul and was a companion of Paul during his later missionary journeys (Philemon 1:24). Others say he is the same Mark in Acts 12:12, 25; he is referred to as Peter’s son ‘…so does my son Mark’ in Peter 5:13. At some point, it is believed that at a certain time, Mark was Peter’s interpreter and travel companion and he wrote down the sermons of Peter, which became the gospel according to Mark.

His symbol is the winged lion. Mark is depicted as a Lion among the evangelists, because he was seen as a person who had courage and monarchy. Some Christian legends refer to Saint Mark as “Saint Mark The Lionhearted” in which he was thrown to the Lions, who refused to attack or eat him. Instead the Lions slept at his feet while he petted them. When the Romans saw this, they released him, impressed by this sight.

As the first of the evangelists, one of the writers of the Synoptic Gospels, his accounts were very vivid. I will mention only four: The story of the rich young man in Mk. 10:17-22 Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he said, “You need to do one thing more…?” 10:21. The cure of the woman with hemorrhage and the raising of Jairus daughter Mk. 5:21-43 especially the drama around “Who touched my clothes?” The calming of the storm Mk 4:35-41 “…But he (Jesus) was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep.” He told the account of Jesus’ encounters as it was, with no embellishment, for example, the sons of Zebedee make their request directly to Jesus not through their mother as the other two synoptic gospels wrote, “James and John…Master allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory” Mk. 10:35-40.

Mark was humble to write about himself during the arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Mk. 14:51-52, “A young man followed with nothing on but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the cloth in their hands and ran away naked.” He knew how to fly from danger.

What aspect of the story of Mark the Evangelist inspires you?

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