Friday, April 25, 2008

St. Mark

For today's feast, I scoured my hard drive for a symbol of the Evangelist Mark. Somehow, I came up with nothing. (Jesus, how about a little picture-taking trip to ... Venice? There are plenty of Markan lions there!) The symbols of the four Evangelists can be confusing, all the more so in Mark's case. What's with the lion? From what I have been told, the primary connection of this one of Ezekiel's "four living creatures" is with the Judean desert, the abode of jackals and, yes, lions. Mark's Gospel opens with John the Baptizer "in the wilderness." Then Jesus goes there (for forty days of fasting and prayer), and Mark specifies "he was with the wild beasts, and angels ministered to him." Wild beasts, lions... The lion was also invoked in the blessing of Jacob over his son Judah. Judah, the patriarch said, was like the offspring of a lion, and as the lion was the "king of beasts," so Judah would enjoy the kingship. Not coincidentally, Jesus was born of the tribe of...Judah.
There is also a legendary connection of Mark with a lion: the Evangelist and his father were threatened by a lioness with her young (in, where else? the Judean wilderness). Mark promised his father that Christ would save them. He prayed and the lioness dropped dead and Mark's father came to faith!
The Markan lion is usually depicted with wings, since Ezekiel's vision was of cherubim around God's throne in heaven.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great insight into the St. Mark connection. My godchild, Mark, was delighted with the blog.