Continuing the Mission

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Feast of Saint Mark

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Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15–16

Saint Mark, whom we honor today, certainly fulfilled this mission that was given to the Apostles. Though Mark was not one of the Twelve and might not have even known Jesus while He walked the earth, he certainly fulfilled the mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world by writing his Gospel account.

Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the Gospels, but it is packed with detail. It recounts the life of Jesus vividly and in an almost breathless way. His Gospel presents the central messages of fulfillment found in Christ, the nearness of His Kingdom and the need to repent and believe.

Though not much is known about Mark, our first reading from the Letter of Saint Peter written to the Christian communities in Asia Minor reveals that Mark was a follower of Peter who refers to Mark with affection as his “son.” It is also likely that Mark was a co-worker of Saint Paul (Philemon 1:24).

As we honor this great evangelist, the most notable testament to His work of evangelizing is the Gospel attributed to him. Though he most certainly made a difference in the lives of those with whom he worked, preached to in person and witnessed to by his charity, it’s amazing to ponder the ongoing effect that his Gospel has had upon the world. As you think about his life, try to imagine him sitting and writing out the Gospel account we now have. As he did so, he could never have imagined that the words he wrote would be read by countless millions until the end of the age. For him, he was fulfilling but one small service to the people of his time. He was motivated by a desire to make Jesus known to them, and the best way he knew how to do this was to write down Jesus’ story.

As Mark wrote his Gospel, we can be certain that he did so not only out of his own desire to share the life of Christ with others, but primarily because he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Mark’s gift of the writing of the Gospel was a response to grace. God gave him this mission, and he listened and obeyed. As a result, his short telling of the life of Christ has become part of the most widely read story in all of human history. And not only that, it is also among the most transformative stories ever written.

Though God will not call you to write a Gospel account, He is calling you to a particular mission. What is that mission? Sometimes we can easily think that what we do is insignificant. But if what we do in life is done through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then we can be certain that God will use our small effort in great ways. Like Saint Mark, we might never see how God uses us until we enter the glories of Heaven. But make no mistake, if you, like Saint Mark, listen to the will of God and act in obedience to Him, then the little you offer will have eternal and transformative consequences for the good of others.

Reflect, today, upon this simple and humble servant of God. Consider Mark’s limited knowledge about the extent that his contribution would end up making for the entire world. As you reflect upon him writing his Gospel account, ponder your own calling from God to do your small part. Know that you, too, can become an instrument of the gift of salvation for many. The key is to seek out the will of God for your life and commit yourself to the fulfillment of that will with passion and drive. Do not be deterred by any apparent lack of immediate results. Stay faithful to your mission and, from Heaven, you will eternally rejoice as you see the unexpected ways that God used you.

Glorious Lord Jesus, You gave Your followers the great mission to preach Your Gospel to the ends of the world. I thank You for the ways that Saint Mark responded to Your inspiration and was used in such a powerful way. Please use me, dear Lord, as an instrument of Your grace so that I can share in the mission You have given to the Church. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Saints/Feasts for Today

Further Reading: Saint Mark the Evangelist

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Scripture Meditations for the Easter Season

Mass Reading Options

Featured images above: Bible drawings by Otto Semler and others, many based on the engravings by Carolsfeld, via flickr