Sunday, April 25, 2021

Marking Eastertide

Propers for St Mark's Day

Sermon for St Mark's Day

How do the Four Evangelists know each other? This is an important question. If the Gospels have been written by four people who are in cahoots, we might have grounds for thinking that the whole story of Our Lord's life is made up. Let's look at these four evangelists.

St Matthew and St John are apostles as well as evangelists. St Luke was a disciple of St Paul and probably was not exposed to the fullness of the company of the Apostles. He writes his Gospel scientifically, interviewing people such as Our Lady and St Peter and collating the evidence. St Luke's Gospel uses the same evidence as St Matthew's, and St Matthew's has the same framework as St Mark's Gospel. This is why there are similarities. They are similar but they are not identical.

But what of St Mark and his Gospel?


St Mark's Gospel is written first and probably based on St Peter's words. St Matthew and St Luke use his Gospel as a basis. And yet, only in St Mark's Gospel may be found the statement that one of the disciples flees naked away from the arrest of Jesus. Why only in St Mark's Gospel?

We can't know for sure but, just as St John writes himself into his Gospel as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" so might St Mark have written himself into his Gospel as the disciple who flees naked into the night. If this is so, then St Mark is an eyewitness to some parts of the life of Jesus and would know St Matthew and St John. Since he is not recorded as one of the first Apostles, it's fair to say that St Mark is a little removed from them. 

But he still ministers. He accompanies St Paul and St Barnabas on their missions before he is at the centre of a dispute and they go their separate ways.

 This makes St Mark a credible witness to the Resurrection, more even than St Paul and St Barnabas. He stands a little far off and can see what is going on, even to his own embarrassment. His only vested interest is in telling the truth of what he sees even if this drives him to his own death. His words are corroborated by the other Gospels and by the Apostles.


St Mark is historically reliable as a witness to an extraordinary one-off event which he sees, not as one closest to Jesus, but as one who is able to see from a little distance. It means that his statement can be believed. It means that we can truly believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, Who lives among us as one of us, Who dies a painful, miserable death upon the Cross, and Who rises bodily from the dead for our salvation.

The Resurrection of the Lord is an historical fact - no myth, no legend. It really happened. St Mark shows us that Christianity is true and is worth believing. We should mark Mark's words.

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