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


1 January 1970 2nd Sunday Lent (B) Mark 9:2-10

I would like to tell you about a lady and few beans. The theme for today is martyrdom. But first I will introduce today’s gospel.

In chapter 1 of Mark, the apostles were amazed when they saw the way Jesus cured sick people. Their hearts were deeply moved when Jesus spoke. So the apostles left everything and followed Jesus. He continues to preach and work miracles in Mark 2. But storm clouds also appear. In chapter 2 and the first verses of chapter 3, Mark tells us about five things that Jesus did that got the religious leaders mad at him.

Mark will conclude this section in 3:6 by telling us:

"When the Pharisees went outside, they immediately began to plot with the Herodians how they might destroy him."

The apostles feel a twinge of uneasiness in the presence of such hostility. Still the apostles are not too worried. After all Jesus is powerful and he is very popular with the ordinary people.

Now we must skip from Mark 3:6 to 8:31. Chapter 8: 31 marks the turning point of Mark’s gospel: On the road to Jerusalem Jesus

"…began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and scribes, be put to death

and rise three days later." (8:31)

Peter scolds Jesus: "Don’t be a worry wart! You are powerful." Jesus then Peter a piece of his mind:

"Get out of my sight, you Satan." (8:33).

Jesus then reveals the DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS;

"If any man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow in my steps."(8: 34)

In other words, Jesus and his followers must be willing to pay with their lives for the coming of Kingdom.

Six days later, on a high mountain:

"There in their presence he was transfigured." (9:2-3)

And Mark describes in his characteristic vivid style:

"…his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them."

Peter says: "This is great. Let’s settle down on the mountain, breathe clean air, enjoy the scenery and spend time alone with Jesus." Instead Jesus answers that the road to glory is the path of martyrs–just like the paths of Elijah, Moses and John the Baptist. It is the road of conflict, humiliation and death before the resurrection. The tour that Jesus planned included some scary small print.

Now about the lady and the beans! Bishop John Tong tells this true story about a Chinese Catholic lady from his ancestral village in Kwong Chau. Her name is Rose. She was financially well off. And Rose was temporarily living in Hong Kong. When the communist took over China, she might have remained in Hong Kong. But when she heard of the suffering of the people in her village, she returned to Kwong Chau (Jerusalem). She became a catechist in the parish and organized the Legion of Mary. Later she was arrested and put in prison. In the late 50’s conditions in China were very harsh. People had little eat and the situation was even worse for those in prison. But occasionally a few beans were added to the daily prison diet of congee. On these occasions, Rose selected the beans from her bowl and gave them to other prisoners she considered more needy than herself. The witness of her charity and her concern for others soon touched her fellow prisoners and the prison guards. She taught catechism to some of them. Some twenty-five years later at the end of the 70’s she was released from prison and was permitted to come to Hong Kong. However, she told Bishop Tong that she no regrets about her return to China. She is a Christian who understood Mark’s gospel about accompanying Jesus to Jerusalem.

Mark’s gospel is a handbook written for potential martyrs. Mark was preparing the Christians of Rome to accompany Jesus. These Roman Christians were living in a threatening and anti-Christian environment.

We in Hong Kong enjoy religious freedom. Still like the prophets, apostles and Rose, we don’t know when we will be called to accompany Jesus in a less friendly environment.

And this morning we of St. Patrick’s community need to ask ourselves some questions. Do the non-Christians of Wang Tau Hom think that we at St. Patrick’s are nice guys? Do they think that we are not much different from everybody else? If we are truly witnessing to our religious beliefs, would our non-Christian neighbors, the political leaders of Hong Kong and China government, the leaders of China, still think Christians are nice guys?

Like the apostles we at St. Patrick’s don’t stay too long on the mountain of transfiguration. No, like Rose we do the kind of things in Wang Tau Hom that Jesus did in Jerusalem–the kind of stuff that results in hardship, suffering and death. Lent is that season in the Church year in which we prepare ourselves for martyrdom through prayer, sacrifice and giving beans to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

That leaves us with three questions for our private meditation and our parish prayer groups.

1. Can I/we describe a time in my/our life when being a Christian has been


2. How is Jesus inviting me/us to accompany him on his journey to Jerusalem?

3. This year will Jesus go to Jerusalem with or without my/our companionship?


1 January 1970 2nd Sunday Lent (B) Mark 9:2-10

ONE WORD: Martyrdom

THEME: During the season of Lent, we prepare for martyrdom.

TEXT: "It is wonderful to be here."

DESIRED RESULT: Father, as a result of last Sunday’s homily I visited my non-Christians relatives in China and told them what my faith has meant to me. They didn’t say anything. But they didn't laugh at me either.


"…it is martyrdom which reveals to the world the very essence of the Christian message.

"From the psychological point of view, martyrdom is the most eloquent proof of the truth of the faith. For faith can give a human face even to the most violent deaths and show its beauty even in the midst of the most atrocious persecutions." Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Eccesia in Asia of the Holy Father John Paul II, (Nov 6. 99).

Cf. also Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), #2473, p. 593.

REFERENCES: Story of Rose is from John Tong, Challenges and Hopes: Story from the Catholic Church in China (Taipei: Wisdom Press, 1999) p. 20.

MASS INTRODUCTION: Last Sunday we made a resolution to prepare for Easter by creating a ‘wilderness atmosphere for yourself and your family." Tell the person next to you how things worked out.

Chewing, Digesting and Practicing God’s Word

1 January 1970 2nd Sunday Lent (B) Mark 9:2-10

nAME_________ Grade_____________

1. __T/F In Mark’s first chapter, there is a lot of conflict.

2. Mark 8:31 is the _____ point of the gospel. Jesus introduces the doctrine of the ____.

3. At the Transfiguration, Peter is so happy that he wants to set up some ____ and enjoy

a p______l life on the m______n.

4. But Jesus tells Peter that the road to glory and resurrection is by accompanying Jesus

to J________m and sharing in his s___________ and d_______.

5. (Optional) What decision must you make today if you are to accompany Jesus to

Jerusalem and share in his death and resurrection?

(Hints: death, tents, crisis, theme, Moses, cross, turning, peaceful, miracle, mountain, Japan, suffering.)