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Three “Marks”: St. Mark the Evangelist, Mark Zwick the Worker, and the New Baby


Julia joined us as a Catholic Worker at Casa Juan Diego after graduating from Tulane University.

One day during the fall, Louise told me she was reading the Gospel of St. Luke from beginning to end during Mark Zwick’s last months. I had never done this before so I thought, with someone to hold me accountable; I would follow their example. After finishing the Gospel of Luke, I was hungry to begin another so I asked Louise which one should come next. She thought perhaps the Gospel of St. Mark because it is straight-forward, the shortest and most direct.

The Sunday before Mark died I sat in the chapel at the University of St. Thomas and read the whole Gospel up until the last supper. I thought it would be special to read the Passion and Resurrection in our chapel at home in the women’s house.

Reading this no-frills, to-the-point Gospel writer helped me to know Jesus as man. To know the incarnate Jesus as flesh in a way I never had before. There weren’t as many metaphors to dance around or beautiful imagery to flirt with; I had to face Jesus as he was.

When I saw Louise that Monday, we had a brief conversation about my reading of St. Mark in which she said, “sitting down and reading all of the Gospels straight through- it can change your life.” I said, “That is how I feel.” I had mostly always passed over Mark’s Gospel but now I can’t get his words out of my head. The Evangelist Mark’s writing of Jesus is so direct it sounds harsh and in a sense, it is. Jesus came to challenge us, the freedom He offers does not exclude a struggle; we cannot extract the cross.

Getting to know Mark Zwick was like getting to know Jesus. I did not know Mark in his day, I only really know of him through others. I arrived to Casa Juan Diego just several weeks before Mark went on hospice. I saw him in the flesh but did not know him when he was up walking around.

This is just like my knowledge of Jesus. I see Him in the flesh in the Eucharist but I did not know him in his day when He walked here on earth.

Without seeing, fully understanding, or talking face to face we are still capable of coming to know Him. The same went for my coming to know Mark Zwick.

I better understand Jesus because I was a witness to the work He calls us to, fulfilled in the life and death of Mark Zwick.

Though we did not know they were the last days, in the final days of Mark’s life Jesus became so real to me. The reality of the Incarnation weighed on me in ways I had never experienced.

Hearing about the life of Mark Zwick was beyond simply hearing about the story of an inspiring person. It was a realization that being near to Mark was being near to Jesus Himself. I know this for two reasons. First, because at the threshold of death Mark was so close to coming to know Jesus in Heaven face to face. Secondly, because Mark lived his life alongside of the poor, we know he lived his life, face to face, alongside of Jesus dwelling within His chosen people.

As we know, Jesus’ story, as the incarnate God, is incomplete without his death and Resurrection. It is the same with his disciple Mark. We saw a beautiful witness to the miracle of life and hope of Resurrection at Casa Juan Diego the day following Mark’s death. Louise called and told us a Honduran woman would arrive before 3pm. She had been released by ICE. As it often goes here at Casa Juan Diego, she arrived at the most inopportune yet perfectly graceful moment. She arrived as I was waiting outside of the door to delay people from ringing the doorbell because Telemundo was inside the entrance recording a piece about Mark. She arrived just after 3pm, just after the hour of Mercy began. I had to begin welcoming Alba by asking for mercy that we must wait a moment to enter and get settled. Thankfully she was gracious and laughed. Soon our laughter would turn to joyous tears. She had bundled in her arms a baby boy who was born just one week prior. We nearly dropped to our knees when we asked for his name. His name was Marcos. We were struck with awe. But as a group of believers this pro-vidential moment only made sense, because it confirmed our knowledge of the beauty of life and the hope that is offered through the Resurrection.

One week after reading the Gospel of Mark in the Bible, I “read” the Gospel of Mark again. This time through all of the people coming to the house to mourn Mark’s death, through the Holy Mass and reflections at his funeral, the burial of his body, and the glory of the Resurrection in the form of a baby.

Houston Catholic Worker, April-June 2017, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2.