Koshari is an Egyptian rice and tomato meal. Its connection to St. Mark reveals some of the earliest days of the Church.
by Ryan Langr
April 25 is the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, the earliest Gospel writer, student of St. Peter, and founder and bishop of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt. His celebration, like many of the early apostles and evangelists, is a reminder of the rich, worldwide and universal culture of the Church.
Exploration of different cultures is one of the reasons I love doing this blog — we cover foods and celebrations from all over the Catholic world. Because of St. Mark’s connection to Egypt, we will make a traditional Egyptian dish called Koshari.
My daughter loved pouring everything together and stirring the pot. She’s not quite 3-years-old, so I don’t let her use the knife quite yet, but the dish require only minimal preparation.
One of the things I love about the Church is its cultural richness, and that it allows people to express their culture through how they worship. St. Mark and this Koshari dish are a perfect example of this. St. Mark was a student of Peter and spoke frequently to converted Gentiles in both Rome and Alexandria. Why was Alexandria so important? It was a center for the Jewish Diaspora.
When the Jewish people were driven from Israel by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., a large amount of them fled to Alexandria. There they were exposed to Greek (Hellenistic), Egyptian and Roman culture, and spread their own Jewish culture. Alexandria was so important that after the spreading of Christianity, it became one of the first three “patriarchs” (or holy cities) of the early Church, along with Rome and Antioch. Later it was joined by Byzantium (Constantinople) and Jerusalem.
There’s much to be said of St. Mark. His writing of the first Gospel, his embrace of the Great Commission, and his martyrdom. What stands out to me the most was his ability to fearlessly dialogue with other cultures, like many of the great evangelists of his time. The ability for this dialogue and evangelization is nearly infinitely greater today than it was in St. Mark’s time.
When eating dishes from different cultures, I find it important to talk to my daughter about those different cultures — how we’re both the same and different — and how we can interact with them. Many times we can be a witness to Christ’s love and truth without ever having to engage in a philosophical and theological debate. I will continue to foster this love of diversity in my daughter, both through cooking and in other ways, so that she may encounter them with the love that Christ and his evangelists did.
you gave St. Mark
the privilege of proclaiming your Gospel.
May we profit by his wisdom
and follow Christ more faithfully.
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.