Saint Mark the Evangelist

25 April

The life story of Mark the Evangelist starts in North Africa, in Cyrene, an ancient Greek town that had been taken over by the Romans. In modern times, this is what we know as Libya.

HIs father, Aristobulus, was Greek, while his mother, Miriam, was Jewish. They were well off and his father was also involved in politics at a high level. They had settled in Cyrene and had one son whom they called Jochanan or John – a popular Jewish name, and Marcus – a popular Greek name. The people of Cyrene often rebelled against Roman rule. As a result there was a steady flow of people moving out of Cyrene to avoid a turbulent life.
The parents of John Mark also decided to move out of Cyrene, and move to Miriam’s home country – Israel, settling in Cana, in Galilee near Nazareth but  with time they had another house in Jerusalem. About this time Mark’s father died and Mark together with his mother spent more time in their Jerusalem house. It is believed that it was at this house that Jesus had His Last Supper and where the the Apostles gathered after the Resurrection.

It is only in the Gospel of Mark that there is a mention of a young man who was present at Gethsemani. It is believed that this young man who escaped the soldiers at the arrest of Jesus, was Mark, who together with his mother had accepted the Word of God from Jesus Christ.

 Mark accompanied his cousin Barnabas on the first missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. But at one point, Mark left them and returned home. Mark and Barnabas did not accompany Paul on his second missionary journey, but went to evangelize on their own. However, later on, Paul, in his letter to Timothy, spoke highly of Mark, asking him to bring Mark with him to Rome stating “he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
Mark also had a close relationship with Peter who, in one of his letters, referred to him as “his son.” It is believed that Peter relied on Mark as his interpreter, as he was very literate. After the martyrdom of Peter, probably on Peter’s request, Mark went to North Africa to evangelize there. So although Mark was not one of the twelve Apostles, he formed part of the foundation of the earliest Christian Community. In fact, he founded the Church in Alexandria where he became Bishop.
The second Gospel in the Bible is attributed to Mark, although it is believed that it was the first gospel written, while its contents could possibly be based on Peter’s sermons. It was addressed to the Gentile converts, proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. For a number of years, Mark preached the Good News and worked miracles, so that many people turned to the Christian Faith. This angered the unbelievers who captured him and dragged him through the streets until he died, a martyr.

The symbol of Mark’s Gospel is a lion with wings because it starts with the narrative of John the Baptist as “ a voice crying in the wilderness “ being compared to the roaring of a lion.

Introduce the children to passages from the Gospel of St. Mark.
– Let them handle the Bible and locate this Gospel, following that of Matthew and followed by the Gospels of Luke and John.
– Children love narratives of miracles! You might choose to narrate a miracle (or more!) taken from the Gospel of Mark, using a Children’s Bible or the authentic Bible for the older one.

Here are some suggestions:

  • The paralysed man Mk. 2, 1-12;
  • The calming of the storm, Mk. 4, 35-41;
  • Jairus’ daughter Mk. 5, 21-42 ;
  • A deaf mute Mk. 7, 31-37;
  • Blind man at Bethsaida Mk. 8, 22-25.

Encourage them to make a drawing of the miracle. Help them to write the words of Jesus beneath it.

Mark came from a wealthy family and yet he left everything to spread the message of the Risen Jesus Christ. In his Gospel he relates the experience of a rich young ruler who was not ready to give up anything to follow Jesus.

At this time in our life (the children’s life!) we cannot give away all that we have . . . .But are we ready to share? Discuss with them: what we can share and with whom, why we find it difficult to share.

Researchers on children’s social development state the value of teaching children to share voluntarily so that it makes them feel good, instead of walking away feeling resentful. Besides, the ability to share willingly paves the way for the virtue  of generosity.

Family Prayer Time
Watch: Jesus with the Children ( Mk. 10, 13-16) 

Talk to the children:

  • If you were there what would you have said to Jesus?~
  • What would He have whispered to you? ~
  • Follow it by a quiet moment. 

They might want to share or they might want to keep it to themselves.( They might want to share it later!)  

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.