1. The Holy Apostle And Evangelist Mark Mark was a traveling companion and assistant to the Apostle Peter, who, in his first Epistle calls him his son–not a son according to the flesh but a son according to the spirit [The chosen one at Babylon sends you his greeting, as does Mark, my son (1 Peter 5:13)]. While Mark was in Rome with Peter, the faithful begged him to write down for them the saving teaching of the Lord Jesus, His miracles and His life for them. Thus Mark wrote his Holy Gospel, which the Apostle Peter himself saw and bore witness to as true. Mark was appointed as bishop by the Apostle Peter and was sent to Egypt to preach. And thus St. Mark was the first preacher of the Gospel and the first bishop in Egypt. Egypt was entirely oppressed by the thick darkness of paganism, idolatry, soothsaying and malice. With the help of God, St. Mark succeeded in sowing the seed of the teaching of Christ throughout Libiya, Ammonicia and Pentapolis. From Pentapolis, St. Mark came to Alexandria, where the Spirit of God led him. In Alexandria, he succeeded in establishing the Church of God, in ordaining bishops, priests and deacons, and in firmly strengthening them all in the honorable Faith. Mark confirmed his preaching through many great miracles. When the heathens raised accusations against Mark as a destroyer of their idolatrous faith, and when the governor of the city began searching for Mark, he again fled to Pentapolis, where he continued to strengthen his earlier work. After two years, Mark returned to Alexandria, to the great joy of all the faithful, whose number had greatly multiplied. On this occasion, the pagans seized Mark, bound him tightly, and began to drag him over the cobble stone pavement, crying out: “Let us drag the ox to the pen.” Wounded and bloodied all over, Mark was cast into prison, where at first a heavenly angel appeared to him, encouraging and strengthening him. Then the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to him and said: “Peace be to thee, Mark, my Evangelist!” To that Mark replied: “Peace be to Thee also, my Lord Jesus Christ!” The next day the vicious men brought Mark out of prison and again dragged him through the streets with the same cry: “Let us drag the ox to the pen.” Completely exhausted and worn out, Mark uttered: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Mark expired and his soul went [was translated] to the better world. His holy relics were honorably buried by Christians and, through the centuries, have given people healing from all afflictions, pains and diseases.

  2. Saint Anianus, Second Bishop Of Alexandria When St. Mark stepped out of the boat onto dry land in Alexandria, the sandal on one foot became torn. He then saw a cobbler and gave him his sandal for repairs. In mending the sandal, the cobbler pierced himself in the left hand with the needle. Blood began to flow, and the cobbler screamed in pain. Then the apostle of God mixed some dust with his spittle and anointed the wounded hand, and suddenly the hand became whole again. Astonished at this miracle, the cobbler invited Mark to his home. Hearing Mark’s preaching, Anianus–such was the cobbler’s name–was baptized, with his entire household. Anianus displayed so much virtue and so much zeal for the work of God that St. Mark consecrated him bishop. This holy man was the second bishop of the Church in Alexandria.

Hymn Of Praise The Holy Apostle And Evangelist Mark Mark the Evangelist flew to Egypt As a bee with honey. And Egypt experienced The sweetness of Christ’s honey, the sweetness of living knowledge. And the people were amazed at Christ: How He was incarnate in His divine care for the world, How He humbled Himself for the sake of man’s salvation, And how He resurrected in glory and in power. “Until now we walked through thick darkness!” Said the Egyptians: “Now the sun rises for us. Let us rejoice, O people, in this bright day!” Mark watered his wonderful crop with his blood, And due to this, all the idols collapsed, And Egypt was baptized: the land of the pharaohs Became the field of God, the Apostolic Church.

Reflection The devil quickly finds work for idle hands, but an angel quickly finds work for diligent ones. In this world of constant movement and constant change, a man must always be busy, whether he wants to or not, either with good works or with evil ones. The idle man is actually not lazy. He is a diligent worker for the devil. An idle body and an idle soul are the most suitable field for the devil’s plowing and sowing. St. Anthony the Great says: “The body needs to be subdued and immersed in prolonged labors.” St. Ephraim the Syrian teaches: “Teach yourself to work, so that you will not have to learn to beg.” All of the other Holy Fathers, without exception, speak of the necessity of work for the salvation of the soul of man. The apostles and all the saints give us an example of continuous and concentrated spiritual and physical labor. That the idle man, by his idleness, does not extend his life on earth but shortens it, is clearly shown by the longevity of many saints, the greatest laborers among the laborers in the world.

Contemplation Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

  1. How His Resurrection incites us and strengthens us for every good work, physical and spiritual;

  2. How His Resurrection enlightens our every good work with the light of hope in the Living God, Who counts our works, measures them and preserves them for the Day of Judgment.

Homily on the apostles’ love of labor “Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:8). First fulfill, then teach. All the apostles and all of the saints of God adhered to this rule. Thus the Apostle Paul, even before he spoke the command that if any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10), declared for himself, and for his assistants in preaching, that they not eat anyone’s bread for free, but that by effort and labor they earn their bread. Wrought with labor and travail night and day! Behold the true laborers! Behold the honey-bearing bees of Christ! Daily and nightly toil–where is there time for sin? Daily and nightly toil–where is there room for sin? Daily and nightly toil–where can the devil weave his nest of passions? Daily and nightly toil– where is there cause for scandal? In some Egyptian and Palestinian monasteries there lived about ten thousand monks. They all lived by the labor of their hands: by weaving beehives, baskets and mats, and by other types of handiwork. Daily and nightly toil, and daily and nightly prayer. When a monk sold his beehives in town for a price higher than that which the abbot designated, the monk was punished for it. For the ascetics it was not a matter of enrichment but only of the most essential nourishment and the simplest clothing. In this, the ascetics were and are the true followers of the great apostles. O my brethren, let us flee from slothfulness [idleness] as from a cave of wild beasts. If by some chance we fall into a cave of wild beasts, let us quickly flee from it, before the wild beasts totally seal off the entrance. The cave is the dwelling place where the slothful man seeks rest. The wild beasts are evil spirits, who feel more at home in such a dwelling place than near their king in hades. O Lord, Who art wonderful in all the works of Thy creation, awaken us from slothfulness and encourage us to labor day and night, by Thine encouraging Holy Spirit. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.