. . . Mark, my son.

According to ancient tradition, St. Mark—whose feast we are celebrating today—was a companion to the apostle Peter during the last few years of Peter’s life. Peter, it is said, loved Mark like a “son” and shared with him many stories about his years as a disciple (1 Peter 5:13). These are some of the stories that became the backbone of the Gospel that bears Mark’s name. But a brief look at that Gospel shows us that some of these stories portray Peter in a less than flattering light.

There’s the story of how Peter became “terrified” at the sight of Jesus walking on the water—instead of being filled with faith and wonder at Jesus’ power (Mark 4:35-41).

There’s the story of how Jesus rebuked Peter harshly for trying to convince him not to go to the cross (Mark 8:31-33).

There’s the story of how Peter denied ever having known Jesus—while Jesus was on trial for his life (Mark 14:66-72)!

You would think that Mark would steer clear of these stories out of reverence for Peter. But he didn’t. And that’s probably because Peter himself wanted them told. You can imagine him telling Mark, Let the people see how I struggled to believe. But let them also see that Jesus never stopped loving me and caring for me.

It seems that Mark also struggled at times. Another tradition tells us that he was the same “John Mark” who abandoned Paul and Barnabas very early in their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13; 15:36-38). Like Peter before him, Mark had his own ups and downs along the path of discipleship. But he stayed on that path, and Jesus stayed with him and continued to work in his heart.

Despite their missteps and weaknesses, we honor both Mark and Peter as saints because even in the midst of their struggles, they stayed close to Jesus. Humbled by their failings but lifted up by the love and mercy of the Lord, they learned a very important lesson: Jesus loves us too much to give up on any of us.

May we never give up on him!

“Lord, teach me how to persevere in my faith, just as you taught St. Mark.”

1 Peter 5:5-14
Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
Mark 16:15-20


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