Q: A recent book states, “St. Mark, the
Evangelist, was a disciple of the
Apostles but did not know Jesus personally.
Mark wrote the Gospel based on eyewitnesses.”
During a televised Mass, a priest
said that Mark was an apostle with Peter
and Paul. Which is it?
Also, I get prayer cards and requests
for donations for St. Jude, who is said to be
the patron of hopeless causes. Isn’t this the
apostle who betrayed Jesus? Is Jude really
a saint? When was he canonized?
A: According to the lists in Matthew
10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19 and Luke
6:13-16, no apostle was named Mark.
Many Christians have linked the
author of the Gospel of Mark with the
man who accompanied Barnabas back
from Jerusalem (Acts 15:37-39) and
who went with Paul and Barnabas
through part of their first missionary
journey in Asia Minor—but who left
prematurely (see Acts 15:36-40).
According to Christian tradition, this
is the same Mark who is mentioned in
1 Peter 5:13 and who worked with Peter
Although Mark was not one of the
Twelve Apostles, he still could have
known Jesus personally. Some commentators
have speculated that Mark
was the man who was clothed only
with a sheet and was seized by soldiers
in the Garden of Gethsemane—but ran
away naked (Mark 14:51-52).
Perhaps the author of the Gospel of
Mark is the John “who is called Mark,”
son of a Mary in whose house Christians
met in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12).
Would the Gospel of Mark be any
less authoritative if its author had never
met Jesus personally? No. That Gospel
is in the New Testament because the
Church saw its faith reflected in it. We
are virtually certain that St. Luke never
met Jesus, but that does not make his
Gospel any less trustworthy. He heard
about Jesus from reliable sources and
assembled fragmentary stories into a
In fact, the first written evidence
linking Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
to the four Gospels in the New Testament
comes from Papias of Hierapolis
in approximately 125 A.D.
We tend to restrict the term “apostle”
to the 12 men in the Gospel lists cited
above. The New Testament, however,
refers to Paul as an apostle because the
term means “one sent.”
Now, about St. Jude: The lists from
Matthew and Mark speak of Thaddeus
as an apostle. The list from Luke
includes a “Judas the son of James,”
who is distinct from Judas Iscariot, who
appears by that title in all three lists.
Christians have long assumed that
Thaddeus and Jude are the same person—but not Judas Iscariot.
It is Jude who shares a feast with the
Apostle Simon (October 28) and who is
called the patron saint of hopeless
causes. The formal canonization
process as we know it did not begin
until the 10th century. By that time, the
names “Simon and Jude” had been part
of the Roman Canon of the Mass for
We do not know as much about
some of the apostles as we might like.
What we do know, however, is the
most important fact concerning them:
They followed Jesus generously, obeying
his command to preach the Good
News to all nations. Genuine devotion
to the apostles inspires us to do the
Q: Some Latin-rite Catholics feel that
ordaining married men will solve
the priest shortage. I know that there are
married priests in Eastern Catholic
Has ordination of married men prevented
a priest shortage and encouraged
membership growth in those Churches? Do
the Scriptures support a married priesthood?
A: First, let me offer a word about
terminology. The expression
“Eastern Catholic Churches” refers to
Churches such as the Melkite, Maronite
and 19 others who are in full communion
with the Bishop of Rome but who
follow liturgical and pastoral traditions
ultimately dating back to the time of
These Churches are usually linked
to the patriarchates in Antioch, Alexandria,
Jerusalem or Constantinople. In
451, the Council of Chalcedon recognized
these four, plus Rome, as the
Church’s patriarchal sees.
Phyllis Zagano’s January 2006
Catholic Update “What All Catholics
Should Know About Eastern Catholic
a good starting place for learning
about these Churches, which are as
apostolic as the Roman Catholic (Latin-rite)
Eastern Catholic Churches have both
married and celibate priests; in most
cases, the celibate priests are also
monks. These Churches ordain married
men as priests but do not allow
those already ordained to marry—nor
allow married priests to remarry should
they become widowers.
The Roman Catholic Church understands
this possibility as pertaining to
the original territories of the Eastern
Catholic Churches but not to the entire
world. Since most of those Churches
have many members geographically
far from the territory where each of
those Churches began, this has caused
At the Synod of Bishops last October,
several leaders of Eastern Catholic
Churches cautioned their Latin-rite
brother bishops not to regard a married
priesthood as a solution for a shortage
of vocations to the ordained priesthood.
Other Eastern Catholic leaders
pointed out that this is a discipline,
not a matter of dogma.
Does Scripture require a celibate
priesthood? The Roman Catholic
Church has seen texts such as Matthew
19:12 (Jesus’ teaching on virginity for
the sake of the Kingdom of God) and 1
Corinthians 9:5 (Paul is not married at
the time he writes this letter) as justifying
its decision to ordain only men
pledged to celibacy—unless they were
married Protestant ministers who later
There are other New Testament texts
that acknowledge a married priesthood,
especially 1 Corinthians 9:5 (where
Paul acknowledges that other apostles
are married) and 1 Timothy 3:2 (where
we read that bishops should be chosen
from among men married only once).
Jesus cured the Apostle Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:30 and Luke 4:38).
Like the Orthodox Churches, Eastern
Catholic Churches have selected their
bishops only from priests who have
already made a promise of celibacy.
Some people say that the Roman
Catholic practice of requiring a promise
of celibacy before ordination does
not honor marriage sufficiently. Others
ask if the Eastern Catholic practice
indeed honors marriage—if only
celibates can become bishops.
Over the centuries, clerical marriage
in the Western Church was part of controversies
over ownership of property
and whether decisions were made for
the good of the Church or the good of
a priest’s biological family.
Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Roman
Catholic Church’s teaching on priestly
celibacy in his 1967 encyclical Sacerdotalis
Many Catholics hold differing opinions
on this issue. I have tried to explain
the different practices within the
one Church pledged to follow Jesus
Christ and preach his Good News.
Q: Aren’t all the artworks representing Jesus simply those artists’
conception of what Jesus looked like? Weren’t there some artists
in Jesus’ day who could have drawn accurate depictions of how
Jesus really looked?
A: What did Julius Caesar look like? Within his lifetime, or
shortly thereafter, people carved statues of him or made
mosaics of him. They did little artwork to preserve the memory
of people who were executed on a charge of treason.
Most of the people who knew Jesus best were born Jewish and retained
many Jewish customs, even after becoming Christians. As Jews, they did
not represent human beings in art; their synagogues did not have paintings
or statues of Abraham, Sarah, Moses or any other Old Testament person.
As Jewish Christians, they were unlikely to represent the face or body
of Jesus in art.
Because there is no “official” portrait of Jesus, people of each time and
culture have felt free to represent Jesus as “one of theirs.” And that is not
such a bad thing. He died and rose for all of us.
The Face: Jesus in Art, produced by Voyager Production and Thirteen/
WNET, with major funding from the Catholic Communication Campaign,
is an excellent two-hour documentary on images of Jesus over the centuries.
More details are available at www.usccb.org/ccc/theface.shtml.
If you have a question for Father Pat, please submit it here.
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