Today we will celebrate our noon Eucharist in commemoration of the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist.
THE LIFE OF ST. MARK THE EVANGELIST
John Mark was a Jew and, according to Paul’s letter to the Colossians, was cousin to Barnabas. He accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. Afterwards, he went to Cyprus with Barnabas and to Rome with first Paul and then Peter. Mark’s gospel is generally regarded as the earliest and was most likely written whilst he was in Rome. It was probably based as much on Peter’s preaching of the good news as on Mark’s own memory. Mark’s gospel has a sharpness and an immediacy about it and he does not spare the apostles in noting their weaknesses and lack of understanding that Jesus the Christ would suffer for the world’s redemption. Sharing int he glory of the resurrection means sharing int he giving of self, both in body and spirit, even to death; sharing the gospel was, for all, in essence both excessively generous and ultimately sacrificial.
A READING FROM THE TREATISE AGAINST THE HERESIES BY ST. IRENAEUS
Although the Church is spread throughout the world, even to the ends of the earth, it has received from the apostles and their followers the faith it professes.
It believes in one God, the Father Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who announced through the prophets and purposes of God, the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, his birth from the Virgin, his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his bodily ascension into heaven, and his future manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father ‘to gather up all things in one’, and to raise to life all human flesh, in order that in accordance with the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee in heaven and earth and under the earth shall bow’ before Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, our Saviour and our King, and every tongue acknowledge him, and the whole creation be brought to his just judgement. Those who have sinned, be they angels, be they mortals who have renounced their faith, who have behaved profanely or who are unrighteous, shall be condemned to the eternal fire; whereas those who are righteous and holy, who have kept God’s commandments faithfully, who have presevered in love whether from the outset of their lives, or by repenting of their evil actions, through the exercise of his grace shall be received into eternal glory.
As I have observed, this is the preaching and the faith which the Church althrough scattered throughout the world, continues to maintain carefully as if it lived together in one house. The church believes these truths as if it had but one soul, one heart, proclaiming them and teaching them and handing them on to others as if it spoke with one mouth. Although there are many different languages in the world, the content of the tradition is one and the same.
The beliefs of the Church planted in Germany are in accord with those of the Church in Spain and Gaul, the Church in the East, Egypt, Libya and Jerusalem, the centre of the world. Just as the sun, that creature of God, is identical wherever it shines throughout the world, so too the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all who wish to know the truth.
Someone who is an eloquent speaker among the leaders of the churches will teach nothing different from what I have outlined, for no one is greater than his master; nor will someone less gifted in eloquence be able to diminish the tradition. Our Christian faith is one and the same, and no matter how much you preach, you will never add to it; and no matter how little you say, the tradition will always be bigger than you.
THE COLLECT FOR ST. MARK THE EVANGELIST
Almighty God, who enlightened your holy Church through the inspired witness of your evangelist Saint Mark: grant that we, being firmly grounded in the truth of the gospel, may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.