November 28, 2015
Anxieties of Daily Life
Jesus warns us of three things that can make our hearts “drowsy”: carousing, drunkenness, and the anxieties of daily life. The first two might be obvious, but the anxieties of daily life? Yet, compared to the first two, this third element is probably more prevalent for people of faith and those who strive to live a morally and religiously decent life.
When we are anxious about daily life, it is often because we forget and fail to believe in God's presence and loving providence for us.
On the contrary, when we trust in the Lord, even the midst of trails and upheavals, we will be able to “stand erect and raise our heads” knowing that the Lord is with us, and “redemption is at hand.”
November 14, 2015
My Words Will Not Pass Away
Each Gospel passage has at least three audiences.
The first audience was made up of the people who listen to Jesus or witnessed first hand his life events. The second audience was the people the Evangelist had in mind when he wrote the Gospel (often referred to as his community, eg. the Markan community in the case of today's passage). And we, listeners and readers of all future generation are the third audience.
The experiences and the reflections of the previous two audiences can help us listen to and reflect on God's words spoken to us today.
For both first and second audiences, the words of Jesus were fulfilled in their lives.
The day of Jesus' crucifixion, the sun was darkened, the powers in the heaven were shaken. Indeed, for Jesus' disciples – the first audience, their world was seemingly coming to an end.
For the second audience, Christians who lived in the Roman Empire probably around the year 70 AD, their world was also in turmoil. Nero had begun the brutal persecution of Christians. And for the Jewish Christians, Jerusalem was recently leveled by the Romans as punishment for the Jewish revolt. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed. Those were indeed the days of tribulation.
In those situations, the disciples of the first audience and Christians of the second audience also witnessed the fulfillment of Jesus' words, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
The Resurrection of Jesus conquered death and gave peace to his disciples. Their courageous witness and faith in turn strengthened Christians of the second audience.
May their witness continue to strengthen us when we face the tribulations of our own times.
November 7, 2015
Her Whole Livelihood
Jesus observes that the woman “contributed her whole livelihood.” The word bios translated here as “livelihood” can also be translated “life.” Fr. Frank Moloney, SDB., suggests that the “double meaning is intended” for out of love and trust, she in fact offers her life. 
The widow is poor. Some scholars suggest that the Greek word ptochoi used here to described her indicates that she is “the poorest of the poor, a widow reduced to begging.” 
But her poverty does not limit her generosity.
Jesus is already in Jerusalem. His mission is near its climatic point. In a short time, he would offer his own life to God and to humanity.
Do I put limits on my generosity and service?
. Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of Mark, A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; p. 247.
Greek has two words for "poor"--penes and ptochos. Penes means "working poor." Ptochos, on the other hand, means being destitute. To put it another way: Penes means having to work. Ptochos means having to beg.