Sermon Notes for Homilists and Religion Teachers.    Embargo:  Catholics are welcome to read after Noon, Sunday



24 Sunday (B) September 17, 2003


About thirty-five years ago, a priest friend described this scene that he witnessed in Kowloontsai. In those days Kowloontsai was made up of wooden huts.  One day my priest friend was walking back to the parish when he saw a puppy running across the street.  A lorry came speeding down the little lane and ran over the dog. A little boy came running out, tears streaming down his face and scolding  the driver:  “Why do you drive so fast?  Didn’t you see my dog?”  Then the boy carried the dead dog home weeping.  However, what surprised my priest friend was the reaction of the on-lookers.  They were laughing.   Later, I will try to analyze why this event was humorous.  But first let’s look at the gospel.


Hinge  A door has a hinge to attach it to the house.  Today’s gospel, Mark 8: 27-35 is the hinge that attaches the first part of his gospel to the second part.  The theme of the first seven chapters has been to introduce us to Jesus, the Messiah.  Jesus is the one who comes to save us.  We see Jesus healing the sick, preaching good news, gathering a group of followers.   After considering all the evidence, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter is suddenly totally convinced that Jesus is the promised





            Now in this same passage Mark introduces the theme of the second half of his gospel:


Jesus-the Son of Man.



Jesus is that person whose glory is hidden and who lived a life of people just like us.  And because he is like us, he can suffer and die.


(It will not be until the fifteenth chapter that Mark will reveal that Jesus is the Son of God.  Mark records that it was the centurion, a Roman soldier, who announces the identity of the dead person on the cross: “Clearly this man was the Son of God.”)


In Chapters 8-15, Mark shows Jesus preparing the apostles and Mark’s little Christian community in Rome for suffering. In chapters 8-15, Jesus shows by word and example how to walk the road of suffering—the road that will end in Jerusalem


Analysis  At first sight, it seemed to me that the Kowloontsai on-lookers were cruel to laugh. Certainly there were insensitive. But these people were very poor.  They had recently fled China. They had left everything behind. They had seen much suffering in their lives. These adults had experienced the death of loved ones.  Perhaps these adults were laughing because the death of this puppy dog was so insignificant compared to the human suffering they had witnessed.  Undoubtedly, this lad would probably endure much more grievous sufferings in his life.  One day he would look back and see how silly it was to weep for a dead puppy. This little tragedy was simply a preparation for the suffering that this boy would inevitably meet in being human.


 Teaching Suffering   We try to shield our children from suffering.  Yet we know that in every life some rain will fall.  Today Jesus and St. Mark remind Catholic parents and grandparents of St. Patrick’s community to prepare the young for suffering and bitter disappointments. We read in our daily newspapers of the suffering inflicted upon even the very youngest of children in Hong Kong and Asia.


From time to time, even very young children may questions about suffering: “Why did my dog die? If God is a loving parent, why didn’t he stop the driver? Does life give more than it takes? Is it better that I was never born? If life gets too difficult, why not commit suicide?”[1] 


How as parents and educators do we treat such questions?  Do we  adults treat the young people’s questions with the respect that they deserve.?  Will Jesus, the Son of Man, and St. Mark help us?


          Book of Answers Today’s gospel, Holy Scripture, especially the Psalms, and above all the words, the life, the death and the Resurrection of Jesus help to form our attitude toward suffering and provide our young people with the resources to prepare for life’s journey.


Parents, grandparents and teachers  when is  the  last   time  that  you  spoke  with  your  children of suffering?     How did you help a child or a teenager meet disappointments, anxiety and physical pain? Did you frankly share with them your own experiences of suffering?     Or  did you say: “You will get over it.    It’s   only  a dog!”  I hope you wouldn’t laugh.






Homiletic Notes

24 Sunday (B)  Mark 8:27-35   Sept. 7, 03




THEME: Christian educators and parents have the task of preparing our Hong Kong children for the inevitable sufferings that accompany every human life.


TEXT: “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously…”


CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: #164 “Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice, and death seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), #164 p. 45.


ILLUSTRATION:  The laughing onlookers saw the death of the dog as a very trivial event compared to the sufferings that they had experienced.  This little tragedy was an amusing baby step in the preparation for life.


DOCTRINE:   A Christian believes that there is meaning in suffering.





24 Sunday (B)  Mark 8:27-35   September 7, 2003

 (A sermon that is not chewed and digested is a waste of everyone’s time.)


1.    The first 8 chapters introduce us to Jesus the M_______.

2.    The theme of the final 7 chapters introduce us to Jesus as the S___ of M___.

3.    The S___ of M____’s glory is veiled; he lives an existence like u__.

4.     Like ____, Jesus could s_____ grievously.

5.     (Optional) Relate an incident in which you as a child suffered pain.  How did or did not an adult help you?


[1] A recent Hong Kong survey said that 17 percent of the children interviewed considered suicide.  Three percent of these actually tried!