‘Immediately’: Characteristically St. Mark

The four evangelists used the adverb “immediatley” (euthus, in Greek) an amazing number of times.

Saint Matthew used it twelve times, Luke fourteen times, and John only six times. Mark however, whose feast day was yesterday, used the word twenty-eight times, and his is the shortest Gospel, only sixteen chapters.

Mark was the spiritual son of Saint Peter. “The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark” (1Peter 5:13). It was to his mother Mary’s house that Saint Peter came after being freed from prison by an angel (Acts 12:12). Some fathers say that he was the same, John Mark, whom Saint Paul mentions a few times in his epistles. He was also believed to be the young man who fled naked from the soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, leaving them holding onto his garment. It was in his mother’s house that the Last Supper was held.

Saint Mark is called “the Interpreter of Saint Peter” because, as the latter’s companion, he wrote the second Gospel in dictation from the Prince of Apostles. After he left Saint Peter in Rome he went to Alexandria and was the first bishop of that city. He was martyred there in the year 68. His body in in the Cathedral of Saint Mark in Venice.

When Brother Francis was teaching me Greek from the New Testament he would get so excited reading Saint Mark. Everytime we came across the Greek word euthus, Brother would accent it with a smile. “Euthus! Do you see,” he would ask, “the evangelist’s spontaneous character (no doubt imbibed from Saint Peter) with his frequent use of this word”? Such enthusiasm! But so true. From the very first time Saint Mark uses the adverb, wherein he describes the “Spirit” driving Our Lord to His temptations and fast in the desert, to the last, when he spares not Peter and highlights his mentor’s denial of Christ and the “immediate” crowing of the cock.

Here are some passages from Saint Mark’s Gospel in which, under divine inspiration, he utilizes the word euthus.

“And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the desert” (Mark 1:13).

“And immediately leaving their nets, they followed him” (1:18).

“And coming to her, he lifted her up, taking her by the hand; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them” (1:31).

“And immediately the damsel rose up, and walked: and she was twelve years old: and they were astonished with a great astonishment” (5:42).

“And immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right” (7:35). And so on with many other miracles.

Finally, the last time Saint Mark uses the term. It is perhaps the most dramatic and certainly the most difficult for the evangelist to put on paper:

“But he [Peter] began to curse and to swear, saying; I know not this man of whom you speak. And immediately the cock crew again. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said unto him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt thrice deny me. And he began to weep” (14:71-2).

May we not delay to respond to grace, now, immediately!

The Lion of Saint Mark, by Vittore Carpaccio (1465–1526), public domain (source).