mark the evangelist

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 25 April – Blessed and Holy Solemnity of St Mark the Evangelist (1st century -martyred 25 April 68 at Alexandria, Egypt) Evangelist, Martyr, Missionary, Preacher, Teacher, friend and assistant to St Peter, St Paul, cousin of St Barnabas – also known as John Mark – Patronages: against impenitence, against insect bites, against scrofulous diseases, against struma, struma patients, attorneys, lawyers, barristers, captives, imprisoned people, glaziers, lions, notaries, prisoners, stained glass workers, Egypt, Ionian Islands, Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro, Italy, diocese of, Arica, Chile, diocese of, Cortona, Italy, diocese of, Infanta, Philippines, prelature of, Venice, Florida, diocese of, 45 cities – Attributes:  lionm lion in the desert, bishop on a throne decorated with lions, man helping Venetian sailors, man holding a book with pax tibi Marce written on it, man holding a palm and book, man with a book or scroll accompanied by a winged lion, man with a halter around his neck, man writing or holding his gospel, rescuing Christian slaves from Saracens, winged lion.   Major shrine – Venice, Italy

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St. Mark was an evangelist, or Gospel writer.    In fact, he was the pioneer in Gospel writing.    His is the shortest and the oldest of the Gospels.   Little is known of Mark except from the New Testament.    He was not one of the twelve apostles but was a member of the first Christian community. Mark had firsthand experience of the early Church and apostolic life.    He was a traveling companion and assistant of Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey.    Something happened to Mark on that journey, perhaps homesickness, so he returned to Jerusalem.    The incident caused a quarrel between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas, Mark’s cousin, was sympathetic toward Mark but Paul would not hear of Mark accompanying them again.    Later Paul and Mark must have been reconciled, because when Paul wrote to Timothy during his final imprisonment, he asked for Mark’s help.

Like another Gospel writer Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles.    We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally.    Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself (so he then did know Jesus) when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane:  “Now 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” (Mark 14:51-52).   Mark’s Gospel was a great contribution to the Church.   It included oral and written tradition concerning the words and deeds of Jesus.    Mark probably secured some of his material from St. Peter.   He shows Jesus as the suffering Son of God.    Mark knew that to accept the Risen Jesus meant to come to terms with the cross.    Jesus was glorified because he willingly allowed himself to suffer death for our salvation.    Mark writes that anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must accept the cross.

Mark wrote to proclaim the Good News to a community of both Jewish and Gentile Christians.   His Gospel is direct and simple to read.    He speaks to Christians about Jesus, who understands their difficulties and sufferings and will one day bring them to share with him eternal joy and glory.

Traditionally Mark is thought to have been founder and bishop of the church of Alexandria, Egypt, where he was martyred.

Over the years artists have given a symbol to each of the evangelists.    Mark’s symbol is a winged lion because his Gospel begins with the story of John the Baptist who, like a roaring lion, called people to repent.   The lion derives from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion.    The wings come from the application of Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures to the evangelists.

St. Mark the Evangelist (1st c.) was born to Jewish parents living in Libya in North Africa, later settling in Cana of Galilee not far from Jerusalem. Mark became one of the 70 disciples of Jesus and the author of the Gospel that bears his name. According to tradition, St. Peter the Apostle was married to a relative of St. Mark’s father, and after Mark’s father died, Peter looked after him like his own son. Being a close disciple of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, Mark’s Gospel is addressed to Gentile converts to the Christian faith living in Rome. Most of what we know about his life and missionary activity is recorded in the New Testament. He traveled to Egypt and founded the Church there, and was martyred c. 68 A.D. by being dragged through the streets of Alexandria until his body was torn to pieces. St. Mark is the patron of lawyers and prisoners. His feast day is April 25.

A brief history of Christianity in the African continent

*this post doesn’t touch on how was used in Christianity western colonialism there will be other posts made for that*
[I have tried to make the reading more accessible for people than and also as short as possible]

Christianity emerged in the Levant* around mid-1st century AD. Christianity in Africa began in Egypt around the 1st century, the Coptic Orthodox Church are believed to be the oldest sect of Christianity in Egypt and one the oldest in the continent along with Ethiopian (Christianity in Ethiopia emerged around the 4th century and existed in the country before that)  and many Copts* still practice it today. According to tradition Mark the Evangelist founded the Coptic founded the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Egypt.                                                                                                                                                           The Kingdom of Nobatia which was established in the 3rd century was a Christian kingdom in what is now lower Nubia. Due to Islamization the Muslim population of Nobatia gradually started to rise but still remained Christian until the invasion of the Funj Sultanate of Sennar. The Kingdom of Makuria (what is now Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan) converted to Christianity near the end of the 6th century but after it was invaded by Muslim armies, the kingdom was cut off from other Christian kingdoms, states, christendom and eventually became a Muslim kingdom.With the addition of the Kingdom of Alwa, these three kingdoms are known as the Christian kingdoms of Nubia

The emergence of Christianity in North Africa’s Maghreb was around the 2nd century. Tertullian (who was born to a Roman father and an Amazigh mother – born in what is now Carthage, Tunisia)  is known as the founder of Western theology was on the prominent and influential figures of Christianity in North Africa. Even after his death, Christianity was spreading rapidly all over the Maghreb. 

Kingdom of Kongo (what is known northern Angola, Cabinda, southern republic of Congo and western Democratic Republic of Congo) became a Christian Kingdom in 1491 when King Nzinga converted to Christianity of his own free will. Despite of the conversion many Bakongo* still practiced their traditional religion, some alongside Christianity. Christianity also influenced traditional Kongo religion and neighbouring kingdoms and states around the Kongo kingdom. The Kongo Kingdom was the Christian only pre colonial kingdom and state in Central Africa


The Levant is a historical geographical term referring to an area in the eastern Mediterranean

Copts are ethno-religious group indigenous to Africa who live mostly in Egypt but also Libya and Sudan. 

Bakongo are a Bantu ethnic group who live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Angola and the Republic of Congo and are descended from the former Kongo Kingdom

Books:

  • Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs: The Coptic Orthodox Church by Jill Kamil
  • Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt edited by Gawdat Gabra
  • The Kingdom of Alwa by Mohi El-Din Abdalla Zarroug
  • The Spreading of Christianity in Nubia by Michalowski
  • Medieval Christian Nubia and the Islamic World by Jay Sapulding
  • Tanscontinental Links in the History of Non-Western Christianity by Klaus Koschorke
  • Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo by Cecile Fromont
  • The Development of an African Catholic Church in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1491–1750 by John Thornton
  • The Cambridge History of Christianity Volume 2: Constantine to c.600
  • The Disappearance of Christianity from North Africa in the Wake of the Rise of Islam by C. J. Speel
  • Church History: Christianity in Ethiopia by Dale H. Moore
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Blessed Solemnity of St Mark the Evangelist!

25th April >> Pope Francis' Morning Homily: Proclaim Gospel With Humility At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Criticizes Preachers Seeking ‘Life Insurance Policies’

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Santa Marta


We are to proclaim the Gospel with humility.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis urged this today, April 25, 2017, the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, his second since the Easter break.

The Pope’s homily focused on the passage from the Gospel of St Mark, which relates the story of the Great Commission. He said “the Gospel is always proclaimed on the journey, never seated, always on the journey.”

The Gospel, Francis stressed, must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride, and Christians, he encouraged, must go out to proclaim the Good News, remaining on that journey, without stopping.

On Preachers Who Seek Life Insurance Policies

A preacher, Francis also said, must always be on a journey and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place.

Christians, the Pope said, need “to go out where Jesus is not known, or where Jesus is persecuted, or where Jesus is disfigured, to proclaim the true Gospel.”

“To go out in order to proclaim. And, also, in this going out there is life, the life of the preacher is played out. He is not safe; there are no life insurance policies for preachers. And if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel: He doesn’t go out, he stays in place, safe.

So, first of all: Go, go out. The Gospel, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, goes forth, always; on a journey, always. On a physical journey, on a spiritual journey, on a journey of suffering.

But what is “the style of this proclamation?” the Pope asked.

The Pope observed that Saint Peter, who was St Mark’s teacher, was perfectly clear in his description of this style, namely that the Gospel must be announced in humility, because the Son of God humbled Himself, annihilated Himself.”

This, the Pope said, “is the style of God,”noting there is no other.

Not a Carnival, Nor Party

“The proclamation of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a carnival, a party.”

With humility and overcoming the temptation of worldliness, the Gospel must be preached, the Pope said. Never can it be announced, he cautioned, “with human power, cannot be proclaimed with human power, cannot be proclaimed with the spirit of climbing and advancement.”

“This is not the Gospel,” he said.

The Pope then asked those present why is this humility necessary.

“Precisely because,” he answered, “we carry forward a proclamation of humiliation – of glory, but through humility. And the proclamation of the Gospel undergoes temptation: the temptation of power, the temptation of pride, the temptation of worldliness, of so many kinds of worldliness that they bring [to] preaching or to speaking; because he does not preach a watered down Gospel, without strength, a Gospel without Christ crucified and risen.”

“And for this reason,” the Jesuit Pope recalled, “St Peter says: ‘Be vigilant, be vigilant, be vigilant… Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.’ The proclamation of the Gospel, if it is true, undergoes temptation.”

Lord Will Comfort

If a Christian says he is proclaiming the Gospel “but is never tempted,” Francis highlighted that it means that “the devil is not worried,” because “we are preaching something useless.”

For this reason, the Holy Father continued, “in true preaching there is always some temptation, and also some persecution.” However, when we are suffering, Francis explained, the Lord is there “to restore us, to give us strength, because that is what Jesus promised when He sent the Apostles.”

“The Lord will be there to comfort us, to give us the strength to go forward, because He works with us if we are faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, and if we do this with a style of humility, of true humility.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May the Lord grant us this grace, as baptized people, all of us, to take the path of evangelization with humility.”

The Cardinal counsellors of the C-9 were among those taking part in the Mass, Vatican Radio reported.