Mark

Do you have a friend named Mark?

April 25 is the feast of St. Mark, one of the companions of the apostles and the author of one of the gospels.

Who was he, and what do the Bible and the Church Fathers record about him?

St. Mark

The majestic view of Baclaran Church today. Among the four Gospels, Mark’s account is unique in many ways. It is the shortest account and seems to be the earliest. Mark the Evangelist was an associate of the apostle Peter and likely wrote his Gospel in Rome where Peter was based. Mark wrote it in Greek. It was likely written for Gentile (non-Jewish) readers in general, and for the Christians at Rome in particular. It is significant that Mark, as well as Luke, was chosen by the Holy Spirit to write the Gospel account even though he wasn’t one of the twelve apostles. Augustine of Hippo, explains: “The Holy Spirit willed to choose for the writing of the Gospel two [Mark and Luke] who were not even from those who made up the Twelve [Apostles], so that it might not be thought that the grace of evangelization had come only to the apostles and that in them the fountain of grace had dried up” (Sermon 239.1). Jesus’ last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his atoning death for sin and his glorious resurrection to new life for all who will believe in Jesus, God’s beloved Son. Their task is to proclaim the good news of salvation, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations. God’s love and gift of salvation is not just for a few, or for a nation, but it is for the whole world – for all who will accept it. The Gospel is the power of God, the power to forgive sins, to heal, to deliver from evil and oppression, and to restore life.

Here are 8 things to know and share about St. Mark, according to Jimmy Akin from the National Catholic Register:

1. Who was St. Mark?
St. Mark is commonly identified as:

  • The figure John Mark from the book of Acts
  • The figure referred to in St. Paul’s epistles simply as “Mark”
  • The figure in St. Peter’s epistles also referred to simply as “Mark”
  • The author of the second gospel
  • The first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt

2. What does the book of Acts tell us about Mark?
We first meet him in chapter 12, just after the martyrdom of James the son of Zebedee (the first of the apostles to be martyred).

At this time, Peter was captured and his martyrdom scheduled, but he was miraculously freed from prison. When this happened, Luke records:

When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying [Acts 12:12].

Mark then began to play a prominent role in the life of the Church, becoming the travelling companion of the apostles Paul and Barnabas:

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark [Acts 12:25].

3. How did Mark cause an argument between Paul and Barnabas?
Mark did not complete his travels with these apostles, though, which eventually caused a significant falling out between Paul and Barnabas:

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”

And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.

And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord [Acts 13:36-40].

One reason Barnabas may have been more favorably disposed to Mark is that he was his cousin, as we learn from Paul’s letters.

4. Did Mark and Paul ever reconcile?
They did. In Colossians, one of Paul’s prison epistles, he writes:

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, receive him) [Col. 4:10].

This shows Mark at a later point as a functioning member of the circle of Paul’s companions, indicating an eventual reconciliation.

The reconciliation was apparently long-lasting, because he mentions mark again in 2 Timothy, written shortly before his death in A.D. 67, where he says:

Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me [2 Tim. 4:11].

His is also briefly mentioned in Philemon, where Paul describes him as a fellow-worker:

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers [Phlm 23-24].

5. What does Peter say about him?
At the end of 1 Peter, the apostle mentions him briefly in the same passage where he indicates he is writing from Rome (i.e., “Babylon”):

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen [i.e., the church of Rome], sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark [1 Pet. 5:13].

This indicates that Mark had become not only a valuable member of Paul’s circle but also someone personally close to Peter–a theme picked up on in the Church Fathers.

Shortly before his resignation, Pope Benedict commented on this passage and how it signifies the convergence of Peter and Paul’s circles in Rome:

Then I think it is important that in the conclusion of the Letter Silvanus and Mark are mentioned, two people who were also friends of St Paul.

So it is that through this conclusion the worlds of St Peter and St Paul converge: There is no exclusive Petrine theology as against a Pauline theology, but a theology of the Church, of the faith of the Church, in which there is — of course — a diversity of temperament, of thought, of style, between the manner of speaking of Paul and that of Peter.

It is right that these differences should also exist today. There are different charisms, different temperaments, yet they are not in conflict but are united in the common faith [Address, Feb. 8, 2013].

6. What do the Church Fathers say about Mark?
A good summary is provided by St. Jerome in is De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men):

Mark the disciple and interpreter of Peter wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome embodying what he had heard Peter tell.

When Peter had heard this, he approved it and published it to the churches to be read by his authority as Clemens in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes and Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, record.

Peter also mentions this Mark in his first epistle, figuratively indicating Rome under the name of Babylon She who is in Babylon elect together with you salutes you and so does Mark my son.

So, taking the gospel which he himself composed, he went to Egypt and first preaching Christ at Alexandria he formed a church so admirable in doctrine and continence of living that he constrained all followers of Christ to his example.

Philo most learned of the Jews seeing the first church at Alexandria still Jewish in a degree, wrote a book on their manner of life as something creditable to his nation telling how, as Luke says, the believers had all things in common at Jerusalem, so he recorded that he saw was done at Alexandria, under the learned Mark.

He died in the eighth year of Nero and was buried at Alexandria, Annianus succeeding him [De Viris Illustribus 8].

7. What is the earliest testimony we have linking St. Mark to the second gospel?
We actually have a first century source on this!

According to a first century figure known as John the Presbyter:

Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ.

For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as heremembered them.

For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.

Pope Benedict, as well as other scholars, think this John the Presbyter may have had a hand in writing some of the books of the New Testament. If so then we have not just first century testimony regarding the authorship of Mark’s Gospel but testimony coming from one of the New Testament authors.

8. Is Mark mentioned in his own gospel?
Possibly. Although he did not apparently follow Jesus throughout his travels, as indicated by John the Presbyter, many have thought that Mark did have at least some contact with Jesus during the time of his Passion and that, as a result, he may be mentioned anonymously in his own gospel.

Specifically, some have proposed that he is the man who carries the water jug in this passage:

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?”

And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ [Mk. 14:12-14]

It has also been proposed that he is the man that Mark curiously records as running away naked when Jesus is arrested:

And they all forsook him, and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked [Mk. 14:50-52].

Jay-Jay

I was at Lorenzo Mission Institute (LMI) for an Easter Recollection when I noticed the statue of Jay-Jay.

He is Pondo ng Pinoy’s First “saint”.

Jay-Jay Pondo ng Pinoy

Pondo ng Pinoy is a movement to develop a Filipino culture rooted more deeply in love of God and neighbor, especially the poor, through little but repeated acts of compassion, solidarity and sharing. Pondo ng Pinoy is also a community foundation born out of the daily contributions of concerned people that will support programs benefiting the poor. As a movement and as a community foundation, Pondo ng Pinoy calls on all Filipinos to care for others so as to attain fullness of life in God.

What is Pondo ng Pinoy and why is Jay-Jay hailed a “saint”?

The Catholic Church’s Pondo ng Pinoy is one of the country’s most effective humanitarian movements.

The movement allows each Catholic to do something about his or her duty to show love for God by caring for the needy. In a concrete way, everyone, even a relatively poor person, can do this act of love for God through service to neighbor by using a plastic drinking water or soft drink bottle as a kind of piggy bank and depositing 25 centavos in it daily, or in the case of really poor person, as often as he or she can spare 25 centavos until the bottle is full. Which is when he or she turns it over to the parish and begins again.

In some parishes, the faithful with filled Pondo ng Pinoy plastic bottles are invited to march toward the altar behind those carrying the bread and wine at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the preparation of the gifts.

Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales started Pondo ng Pinoy before he was made a cardinal. He was driven by his resolve to get the Catholic faithful to realize that each of them should help solve our country’s problem of massive poverty.

He gathered the priests and religious of the Archdiocese of Manila, as well as delegates from the dioceses of Antipolo, Cubao, Imus (Cavite), Caloocan, Malolos (Bulacan), Novaliches, Parañaque, Pasig, San Pablo (Laguna), Taytay (Rizal) and Puerto Princesa (Palawan), at the Folk Arts Theater in Pasay on June 11 and on June 12, 2004. The assembly launched Pondo ng Pinoy.

Cardinal Rosales saw in Pondo ng Pinoy a way by which every person, “no matter how poor, no matter how humble, can enjoy the freedom to give, to help and live fully.” This is because Pondo ng Pinoy aims to cultivate the culture of giving and helping another, through saving as little as 25 centavos a day as an act of love for the poor and as symbol of one’s good works. The money, Cardinal Rosales said, would be meaningless without the Spirit of Love generated by the act of saving it daily. Cardinal Rosales summed up the Pondo ng Pinoy principle in this motto, “Anumang magaling kahit maliit basta’t malimit ay patungong langit.” [Every good thing and act, no matter how small, if it is done often leads to heaven.]

“We can do no great things,” said Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “only little things with great love.”

The story of young Jay-jay is, in essence, the story of Pondo ng Pinoy, a story of little things, done with great love. Jay-jay, a child in the 5th grade, in all his youthful wisdom understood the theology of Pondo ng Pinoy – of how small things, given with great love and concern for others, can change the world for the better.

Each day, he would gather all the 25-centavo coins he could find, to drop into a small, empty mineral water bottle that stood on his mother’s desk at her office.

Remembering his teacher’s admonition that the bottles should be filled with small amounts every day instead of in a rush at the last day of submission, he would fill it slowly, day by day, with whatever amounts he could offer as a small sacrifice for the sake of others.

He even went as far to refuse the payment of P5.00 from a friend of his mother for a little service he rendered, “Beinte singko na lang po, para sa Pondo ng Pinoy” was his rejoinder to the offer.

Heaven, it seemed, could wait no longer to have this dear child in the company of the angels. A disease similar to leukemia spread quickly through his body. Yet even when confined to his sickbed at the height of his illness, Jay-jay’s thoughts were never far from his little bottle of coins.

Murmuring to his mother, he would ask, not for toys or books or food but for his little bottle: “Mommy, akin na, pupunuin ko ‘yun para sa amin ni Jesus.” His mother learned to see, through her son’s eyes, the slowly-filling bottle not as a discarded piece of refuse, but as a vessel of love and a symbol of compassion.

Today, Jay-jay sits at the feet of Christ, and is embraced by the arms of the Savior he loved with all his innocent and trusting soul.

His memory lives on, though, not only in his beloved mother’s heart, but in the hearts of all those who see in Pondo ng Pinoy the chance “to do small things with great love”, and to change the world one small loving step at a time.

Jay-jay’s love story – for it is indeed a story of love – inspires everyone to look upon the humble containers bearing the Pondo ng Pinoy logo as the Hand of God extended in abiding love and unfailing mercy.

His story caused Cardinal Rosales, the father of Pondo ng Pinoy to declare joyfully, “We have our first “saint!” as he asked us to commit to our hearts the gentle words of innocent faith”: Pupunuin ko ‘yun, para sa amin ni Jesus.

For more than 10 years, Pondo ng Pinoy continued to make a difference in the lives of many.

One of the numerous successful livelihood projects that came into being thanks to Pondo ng Pinoy was Eco-Uling project in Taguig City, which both gives a livelihood to persons with disability and promotes environmental protection and enhancement. The project produces charcoal briquette from a combination of water lily, coconut husks and shell.

Some 20 persons with disability and their young Muslim friends run the Eco-Uling project. They gather the materials, do the technical production and market the product. This project has enabled the PWDs to earn a living by themselves.

The project wipes out the water lily-caused problem of clogged waterways that causes flooding during the rainy months. Pondo ng Pinoy initially granted the project P300,000 and then gave an additional P280,000 to expand the operation.

Pondo ng Pinoy has sponsored more than 300 health, livelihood, development, alternative learning and housing projects and the Hapag-Asa subsidized feeding program. All these projects and programs have cost more than P200 million.

The Pondo ng Pinoy movement operates through the Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation. Its members, aside from the Archdiocese of Manila, are 18 dioceses, two apostolic vicariates, and the Military Ordinariate.

You can help Pondo ng Pinoy continue its legacy.

Donate now!
Account Name: Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation, Inc.

Bank of the Philippine Islands: SA#3063-6086-52
Banco de Oro: SA#2200-45555-0 / SA#2630-01627-3
Metrobank: CA/SA#3-175-50800-8
Chinabank: SA#103-521881-1

HAPAG-ASA INTEGRATED NUTRITION PROGRAM:
Account Name: PONDO NG PINOY CFI (HAPAG-ASA)
Bank of the Philippine Islands: CA#3061-0858-22
Banco de Oro: CA# 2638-00407-0
Metrobank: CA# 175-7175-50963-8
Chinabank: CA#103-57972-19
Security Bank: CA#141-026133-002

For more information, please visit their official website: http://pondongpinoy.com

Relic

An online post by Manila Cathedral facebook page made me think, did John Paul II foresee his return to the Philippines?

In his last message before departure from the Philippines in 1995 World Youth Day, Pope John Paul II in a personal remark said, “The Pope (…) that he looks another opportunity perhaps to return, I don’t know how. I will see you again, will see you again!”

Fast forward to 2018, he did return through the relic of his blood and as a saint inspiring more people to become more closer to God.

Relic

To venerate the relics of the saints is a profession of belief in several doctrines of the Catholic faith: (1) the belief in everlasting life for those who have obediently witnessed to Christ and His Holy Gospel here on earth; (2) the truth of the resurrection of the body for all persons on the last day; (3) the doctrine of the splendor of the human body and the respect which all should show toward the bodies of both the living and the deceased; (4) the belief in the special intercessory power which the saints enjoy in heaven because of their intimate relationship with Christ the King; and (5) the truth of our closeness to the saints because of our connection in the communion of saints we as members of the Church militant or pilgrim Church, they as members of the Church triumphant. The relics of the saints and their veneration is just another in the long line of treasures which Jesus Christ has given to His chaste bride, the Church. These relics summon us to appreciate more profoundly not only the heroic men and women, boys and girls who have served the Master so selflessly and generously, but especially the love and mercy of the Almighty who called these His followers to the bliss of unending life in His eternal kingdom.

Today, Saturday, April 7, together with thousands of Catholics honored the relic of the blood of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Manila Cathedral with a public veneration.

The public veneration began with the Holy Eucharist led by Manila Cathedral rector Father Reginald Malicdem, including a brief homily delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Rappler’s Paterno Esmaquel II chronicled Tagle reminded Catholics that the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was first spread by witnesses from among the “simple people” – not experts, scientists, or “so-called knowledgeable people.”

“My dear brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord wants to meet us, to open our eyes. He wants to encounter us, and when you have seen him, go, tell the Good News. Tell the Good News to those who are suffering, those who live in darkness, those who have remained in their tombs of despair,” Tagle said.

Tagle then described the late John Paul II as “one of the great witnesses of the Risen Lord.”

Referring to the late pope, Tagle said: “He traveled all over the world telling people, ‘Don’t be afraid of Jesus. Don’t be afraid of the Risen One. Do not be afraid of the life he offers. Welcome him.'”

‘We welcome him again’

“Pope John Paul II came to us. He opened his heart. The Philippines is always welcome in his heart. Now we welcome him again – the relic of blood. Blood. Life. The life connection continues, but it is life in Christ,” Tagle said.

“With Saint Pope John Paul II, let us be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth,” the cardinal said.

John Paul II’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, gave the blood relic to the Manila Cathedral as a gift, as the Manila Cathedral this year marks the 60th anniversary of its rebuilding after World War II.

“Towards the end of Pope John Paul II’s life, with complications from Parkinson’s disease, doctors extracted blood from him in case of an emergency transfusion. There are 4 vials of blood that were never used. Two of the vials were held at Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome, and the other two were given to Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary, then Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz,” said a statement from the Manila Cathedral.

“The blood is in a liquid state because of an anti-coagulant substance present in the test tubes at the moment of extraction,” the Manila Cathedral statement added.

Seven vials of this liquid blood have been enshrined in different churches worldwide, including the Manila Cathedral.

In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, Father Carlos Martins, a priest who handles relics, explained the spiritual significance of religious artifacts like these.

“I think that Saint Jerome put it best when he said: ‘We do not worship relics, we do not adore them, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator. But we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.’ We venerate relics only for the sake of worshipping God,” Martins said.

Source: Rappler.com