31 August 2003  MARK 7:31-37                    


Band-Aid      Before ordination, I worked several weeks in the emergency room at a New York hospital.  One night an elderly man came in with a little sore on his foot.  I thought: “Can’t this man wash his foot and put a Band-Aid on the wound?  Why did he come to the emergency room?”  But the nurse on duty smiled at him, gently washed the sore on his foot and carefully put on a clean Band-Aid.  She explained that he often came in.  He didn’t have any family and just wanted a little attention.  That nurse taught me a valuable lesson by her example of tenderness.


            By contrast, we have all experienced priests, doctors, nurses,  communion ministers  who are very hard-working, skillful and efficient.  But they lack that beautiful quality of tenderness.


How do we know what God is like?  We look in the gospels and see what God’s son is like.   “He’s a chip off the old block.”   Or “Like father; like son.”  


            Jesus Misunderstood This is the part of Mark’s gospel in which Jesus is increasingly misunderstood.  The Pharisees find fault with Jesus. Even Jesus’ disciples don’t understand him and go away. Jesus in verse 7:18 even asks his disciples: “Are you, too, incapable of understanding?  Will you go away?”


            Jesus Laughing Now Jesus is in a Gentile area.  Surprisingly, in the previous passage, the Canaanite woman, understands Jesus.  When Jesus reminds her that the Jews look upon Caananites as dogs, she answers:  “Please, Lord,..even the puppies under the table eat the family’s leavings.”  Jesus is surprised at her Faith and laughs: “For such a reply, be off now! The demon has already left your daughter.”  Jesus finds Faith in unusual places. (I wonder if this week someone here will find Faith in an unusual place.)


            Jesus Tender Today’s passage reveals the tenderness of Jesus.  This man was unable to speak.  He could not sing or proclaim God’s praises.  He couldn’t hear the word of God proclaimed in the synagogue.  Moreover he was a pagan. But by observing Jesus he got the idea that Jesus could help him.  Using gestures: “...he begged Jesus to lay his hand on him.”  Perhaps Jesus realized that the man was embarrassed.  The man was uncomfortable having all sorts of people looking at him.  They didn’t love him.  They were just curious.  So Jesus quietly took him aside.  Now Jesus could have said some words and the man would have been cured. but Jesus tenderly put his fingers into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and emitted a groan.  He said to him “Ephphatha!”  Jesus not only cured the man, he cured him tenderly.


We don’t like people who help us reluctantly, without any concern for our feelings and without compassion.  But study the gospel to discover the many occasions when Jesus not only helps others, he does it with gentleness and tenderness.  What Jesus did in Palestine 2000 years ago, he continues to do right now in Wang Tau Hom and in each of our lives.


            This is how Jesus treats us when we have pain, or are depressed, or have done something wrong or have failed miserably. When for some reason he cannot take away our suffering immediately, he remains with us and experiences our sorrow as if it were his own.


            Wang Tau Hom Residents  There must be many people in Wang Tau Hom who are afraid of God.  They think God as a strict judge.  I bet even your next door neighbor does not have the slightest idea that God not only loves her but loves her tenderly.  We at St. Patrick’s Church know that our God is more tender than any mother could be to her newborn baby.  A lot of people don’t know that.  Even some Catholics sitting in the Church this morning might not really believe that God loves them tenderly.  Sad!


            How will these people know what Jesus is like?  How will they know what God is like?  It could be through the tenderness shown them by a member of St. Patrick’s community.





23 Sunday B   31 August 2003  MARK 7:31-37






END OF MASS: During this Eucharist  St. Mark helped us to know Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.  The message which we proclaimed today is the “Tenderness of Jesus.”  Will you always remember this?   (I didn’t hear any response!)   Will you always remember this?  


“Yes, we will, Father!”  (That’s better. I am not deaf.)



RESULT:  I now realize that Jesus not only loves me and likes me, He treats me tenderly. As a friend of Jesus I want to be like him and treat those in need tenderly.


NB:  This is the kind of sermon that I as a priest should always preach to myself.



CHEWING THE WORD: 23 Sunday Year B

JESUS: TENDERNESS 31 August 2003  MARK 7:31-37                     3

September 10, 2000

“The Word of God that has not been chewed and digested by a Christian is a waste of ink.”


1. How did the nurse treat the man with the sore on his foot?  With _______.      

2. What do the poor, the sick, the troubled, the depressed find most attractive             about Jesus? He treated them with _______.

3. How did Jesus treat the man who couldn’t speak or hear? With _______.

4. (Optional) Tell a time when you helped someone but did not treat her/her with