‘The Church has raised today’s feast to its present high rank because St Mark is the author of the second Gospel. For the same reason he deserves our gratitude, respect, and love.
John Mark, later known simply as Mark, was a Jew by birth. He was the son of that Mary who was proprietress of the Cenacle or “upper room” which served as the meeting place for the first Christians in Jerusalem. He was still a youth at the time of the Saviour’s death. In his description of the young man who was present when Jesus was seized and who fled from the rabble leaving behind his “linen cloth”, the second Evangelist might possibly have stamped the mark of his own identity.
During the years that followed, the rapidly maturing youth witnessed the growth of the infant Church in his mother’s Upper Room and became acquainted with its traditions. This knowledge he put to excellent use when compiling his Gospel. Later, we find Mark acting as a companion to his cousin Barnabas and Saul on their return journey to Antioch and on their first missionary journey. But Mark was too important for the hardships of this type of work and therefore left them at Perge in Pamphylia to return home.
As the two apostles were preparing for their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take his cousin with him. Paul, however, objected. Thereupon the two cousins undertook a missionary journey to Cyprus. Time healed the strained relations between Paul and Mark, and during the former’s first Roman captivity, Mark rendered Paul valuable service, and the Apostle learnt to appreciate him. When in chains the second time Paul requested Mark’s presence.
An intimate relationship existed between Mark and Peter; he played the role of Peter's companion, disciple, and interpreter. According to the common patristic opinion, Mark was present at Peter’s preaching in Rome and wrote his Gospel under the influence of the prince of the apostles. This explains why incidents which involve Peter are described with telling detail (e.g. the great day at Capharnaum). Little is known of Mark’s later life. It is certain that he died a martyr's death as bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. His relics were transferred from Alexandria to Venice, where a worthy tomb was erected in St Mark’s Cathedral’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
O Almighty God, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of thy Evangelist Saint Mark: give us grace; that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of thy holy Gospel; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. -Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon