Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Feast of one of the Four Evangelists, namely that of St. Mark the Evangelist, who was one of the earliest disciples of the Lord. According to Church traditions, St. Mark was one of the companions of the Apostles, and he interacted closely with the Apostles, continuing the works that the Lord had entrusted to His disciples and followers. In some other traditions, St. Mark was identified with one of the seventy disciples that the Lord Jesus had sent to be His missionaries among the people of God. As such, St. Mark was likely one of the witnesses of the many events surrounding the life and ministry of the Lord.
St. Mark did not only write one of the four canonical Gospels, the Gospel of St. Mark, but he was also instrumental in the establishment of the Church and its hierarchy in several places, most notably in Egypt, where he himself became the first Bishop of Alexandria. Back then, the Hellenistic city of Alexandria was the capital of Roman Egypt and was the second greatest city in the whole Roman Empire. St. Mark helped to build up the strong foundation of the Church in Egypt, which would henceforth become one of the most important centres of Early Christianity, and a focus of many Christians and early Church fathers.
St. Mark took part in many of the important events in the early Church, and was a great shepherd who dedicated himself to his flock, helping the foundation of a strong and living Christian community in Egypt, Africa and beyond. He would later on be martyred for his faith according to the Apostolic tradition, and he died a martyr, after having lived a most exemplary and faithful Christian life. St. Mark had shown all of us what being a Christian is all about, revealing to us what Christian discipleship is, and how we should be living our lives in each and every moment of our lives as true sons and daughters of God.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Peter, the exhortation from the Prince of the Apostles of the calling that God had made upon each one of us, His beloved people. We are all called to be the ones to proclaim the truth of God to each and every one we encountered in our lives. All of us are entrusted with this same mission that the Lord had given to His Church, and as members of that same Church, we are all part of this great effort in proclaiming the salvation and the love of God in our world today. As Christians, we must have that understanding and realisation that we are called to walk in the same path that St. Mark had once walked before.
This is what the Lord Himself had told us in our Gospel passage today, as He told all of the disciples after His Resurrection, that He would send His disciples to proclaim His Good News to all the corners of the world. They will all go forth and spread the words of truth to everyone they encounter, and they will perform miracles and wonders in His Name. They will have to endure sufferings, trials and challenges for His sake, and they will be persecuted, but only to be triumphant with God at the very end. God will remember them and will save them all.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard these readings from the Scriptures, we are all yet again reminded that as those who believe in God, as Christians, we are all called to commit ourselves to proclaim the Risen Lord in our every action, words and dealings throughout life. We are all presented with the truth and the teachings of the Lord which had been preserved and handed down to us from the Apostles and the many other disciples like St. Mark, who had faithfully kept the Christian faith alive and burning well even throughout the most difficult and challenging moments in the history of the Church.
And what are we going to do about it, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we not going to follow in the footsteps of St. Mark and the other Apostles, disciples, saints and martyrs of God, all of those who had dedicated their lives and efforts to glorify God by their lives and actions? There are many opportunities that had been given to us, and we have to appreciate just how blessed we are to have been favoured by God as such. We must not take it for granted that we have this faith with us, but we have to continue to nurture it and allow it to grow, that we may be great inspirations for many others.
Let us all therefore strive to do our best to proclaim the Risen Lord, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, following the examples of St. Mark and the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord. May all of us do our best to proclaim Him and His truth, His love and mercy to the whole world through our own words, actions and deeds. May the Lord be with us all and may He bless our actions and strengthen each and every one of us so that we may always ever be courageous to do His will, and be His witnesses wherever we are, and in whatever opportunities we receive. St. Mark the Evangelist, holy servant of God, pray for us! Amen.