We aren’t completely sure who St. Mark was. He might have been the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Some scholars say he might have been the one described in chapter 14 of Mark’s Gospel, at the arrest of Jesus: “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.” But others question whether he ever saw Jesus in person at all. We know that he was a companion of Peter and Paul in the missionary journeys, and that he was the first to write about Jesus’ life. It is estimated that the Gospel of Mark was written around 60 or 70 AD, after the death of both Peter and Paul. As you might expect since this was the first Gospel written, it is used as a source for both Matthew and Luke’s Gospels.
Whoever Mark really was, I think the key idea for this feast today is that he was one who willingly embodied the command of Jesus that we have in today’s Gospel reading: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” His missionary work, and his work as the Evangelist testify to his passion for the Gospel and his efforts to see that the whole world came to believe in Jesus.
What we celebrate on his feast day, though, is that the work of that command is far from complete. There is so much of the world that has yet to hear of Jesus. Some of them are in far off lands, others are in our workplaces, schools, and communities. Because of that, it is imperative that we all continue the work of Mark and the other Evangelists. We are the ones who have to testify to the Gospel in word and in deed, witnessing to what we believe in everything that we say and do. Our life’s work is not complete until we are sure that those who know us also know the Lord in and through us.
“The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;” the Psalmist says today, “through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.” May we, like St. Mark, sing of the Lord’s goodness in every moment of our lives.