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JUNE 2000

Word Today,
June 1, 2000 (Thursday)

    Lectionary:  Acts 18: 1-8 / Jn 16: 16-20

Today we commemorate St. Justin.  He died as a martyr in the year 165.  But he is better known as the first Christian philosopher. He was a pagan philosopher who was converted to Christianity.  He then used his philosophical acumen to defend Christianity, especially in the intellectual arena.  He is classified as one of the "apologist Fathers" of the Church because he "gave a reason" (apologia) for his belief. 

In his encyclical On Faith and Reason, the Pope has emphasized how faith and reason have to move in unison.  They are like two wings of a bird.  In order to soar to God, we must have a strong faith. This faith, however, must blend and harmonize with our understanding.  There can be no real conflict between the two because they both aim at truth, and truth cannot be contradictory.

Word Today, June 2, 2000 (Friday)

    Lectionary: Acts 18: 9-18 / Jn 16: 20-23

Jesus Christ said, "I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you."  This passage makes us consider the joy a Christian should have.  Christianity, although its symbol is the cross (which is associated with hardship), is a religion of joy and happiness. 

Anyone can have a good laugh and still be sad deep down inside.  Joy is not just having a fun time.  True joy, the one that "no one shall take from you", is based on the deep conviction coming from faith that God is our father who loves us madly.  When hardships come (and come it must for everyone because we live in an imperfect world), Christian joy is not removed. By uniting our sufferings with Christ on the cross, our joy becomes even more firmly rooted.  A Christian can continue to smile in spite of external and internal hardships.

Word Today, June 3, 2000 (Saturday)

    Lectionary:  Acts 18: 23-28 / Jn 16: 23-28

In the first reading we have an example of the apostolic fervor of the early Christians.  Priscilla and Aquila, a Christian couple who were close to St. Paul, came across Apollo, who was an eloquent man who talked about Jesus Christ.  But Apollo had not received proper Christian initiation through sacramental baptism.  So Priscilla and Aquila "took an interest in him and gave him further instruction" about Christianity.

As we go about our day, we must take a genuine interest in the well-being of our companions.  We should not let occasions to do good pass  us by.  If we see an opportunity to bring someone closer to God (for example, by encouraging them in their Christian life), we should care for them enough to go out of our way to do so.  In this Jubilee Year, we could help our friends avail of the many graces coming from God through the different celebrations, all leading to a deeper conversion for which we are all in need.

Word Today, June 4, 2000 (Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension)

    Lectionary:  Acts 1: 1-11 / Eph 1: 17-23 / Mt 16: 15-20

After giving them the command to preach the gospel and  to "make disciples of all nations", Jesus Christ gave them an assurance.  "And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time."

These words are the scriptural basis for our belief in the "indefectibility" of the Church.  To be indefectible does not mean that the Church, as the People of God, composed of men and women redeemed by Christ, is free of defects.  The Pope's apology for the sins of the children of the Church is a clear admission of the presence of sin and defects in the bosom of the Church.  "Indefectibility" means that the Church, the "universal sacrament of salvation", will not fail in its ultimate mission of distributing the fruits of the redemption of Christ.  The Catholic Church will last until the end of the world.  Meanwhile, it will continue fulfilling the charge laid on it by Christ to preach the Gospel and to invite those who believe to be washed from their sins through the waters of Baptism.

Word Today, June 5, 2000 (Monday)

    Lectionary: Acts 19: 1-8/ Jn 16: 29-33

The first reading today can apply to the sacrament of confirmation.  After being baptized, Paul "laid his hands" on the new converts then "the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy."

Confirmation strengthens our commitment to our Christian vocation.  It implies the obligation to become "witnesses" of Christ, just like the apostles.  That is why the apostolate is not just an obligation of some sectors of the Church.  Each and every Christian must be aware of his obligation to be a witness of Christ in his own way, in the place where God has put him.

Word Today, June 6, 2000 (Tuesday)

    Lectionary: Acts 20: 17-27 / Jn 17: 1-11

The gospel contains a very moving prayer of Christ.  "I pray for them (the apostles present then)... for those you have given me because they belong to you... I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world." 

Christians live in the world but they belong to God.  Most Christians have to continue living in ordinary society because that is  where God has placed them.  In the imagery of  an ancient Christian writer,  Christians are in the world just like the soul is in the body.  Christians have to give life and meaning to human realities just as the soul vivifies the body.  But in order to fulfill his mission towards the world, a Christian cannot be "worldly" in the sense of being imbued with materialistic values.  For this we can count on Christ's prayer for his disciples.

Word Today, June 7, 2000 (Wednesday)

    Lectionary: Acts 20: 28-38 / Jn 17: 11-19

In his prayer, Jesus Christ is asking for the holiness, for the sanctity, of his followers.  Then he says, "And for them I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."

There is a saying that "No one can give what he does not have."  This has a special application for those who are active in the apostolate.  Just like Christ, if we want the persons around us to become better,  we should begin with ourselves.  Church workers, like priests or catechists, must try to practice what they teach.  They can only have real apostolic fruits if they strive, like Jesus Christ, to sanctify themselves, to consecrate themselves truly to God.

Word Today, June 8, 2000 (Thursday)

    Lectionary: Acts 22: 30; 23: 6-11 / Jn 17: 20-26

The gospel reading contains Christ's prayer for the unity of all Christians.  "That all may be one just as you, Father, in me and I in you; that they also may be one in us."

The movement for the unity of all Christians continues to be a great concern of Pope John Paul II.  It is one of the graces that we should pray for in this Great Jubilee Year.  The ecumenical movement is based on sincere dialogue and respect for one another.  It seeks to emphasize our common heritage with other Christian communities, and to honestly thresh out differences in fidelity to the truth of the Gospel.  Much progress has taken place, resulting in mutual agreements both of a doctrinal and practical nature.  Let us all pray for the continued success of these efforts.

Word Today, June 9, 2000 (Friday)

    Lectionary: Acts 25: 13-21 / Jn 21: 15-19

The gospel today, nearing the end of St. John's narration about the risen Lord, is about Christ's triple question to Peter: "Do you love me more than these do?"  The triple question may be a reference to Peter's triple denial before the passion, as if Christ were giving Peter a chance to make up for his earlier offence.  But we can marvel at the last answer of Peter: "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you."

This answer is a model of love and humility.  Peter unabashedly declares his love for the Master.  But unlike the early Peter's brash and self-confident answers, he does not rely on his own strength or deeds. He is humbler now. He knows he has nothing to brag about.  Yet he sticks to his conviction that he loves Jesus.  Peter is now ready to become the solid foundation of the Church.  He has learned to  rely more on Christ than on himself.

Word Today, June 10, 2000 (Saturday)

    Lectionary: Acts 28: 16-20. 30-31 /  Jn 21: 20-25

The reading today contains the last words of the gospel of St. John.  "There were many other things that Jesus did;  if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written."

This is a very eloquent testimony in favor of the Church's reliance on Sacred Tradition.  The principle of  "sola scriptura", which maintains that the bible is the only source of our Christian belief, is paradoxically not upheld by the scripture itself.  We must look to the patrimony of the Church (her history, the witness of the first few centuries, her liturgy and pious practices) in order to tap all the richness of our belief.  For this we must rely on a living reality which enjoys the continuous support of Christ, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the living tradition of the Catholic Church, entrusted by Christ to her legitimate pastors, the  successors of the twelve apostles.

Word Today, June 11, 2000 (Pentecost Sunday)

    Lectionary: Acts 2: 1-11 / Gal 5:16-25 / Jn 15: 26-27, 16: 12-15

Today we commemorate the event when, soon after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent upon the early Christian community, filling them with vitality and courage to carry out Jesus' last instruction to them of spreading the Gospel.  We should not consider Pentecost as an event that once took place and is over and done with.  No.  The Holy Spirit descended upon the Church on that day, and the Holy Spirit continues with the Church now, without any diminution of His presence.

The Holy Spirit is like the soul of the Church.  The life of the Church is made possible by the action of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit acts, giving effectiveness to the Sacraments, which are the infallible channels of grace.  She acts through all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, through the hierarchy and through all the followers of Christ.  We should try to sensitize ourselves to recognize the actuation of the Holy Spirit in  our ordinary life so that, just like those early Christians, we can correspond to the gifts and charisms for the building up of the Church.

Word Today, June 12, 2000 (Monday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 17: 1-6 / Mt 5: 1-12

With the celebration of Pentecost, we have come to the end of the Easter season and now go back to the so-called "Ordinary Time" of the liturgical cycle.  In this light, the gospel reading can be considered especially meaningful because it is the gospel account of the eight beatitudes, which are like a blueprint of our ordinary Christian life. 

The beatitudes show us that being a Christian does not mean just being a "decent chap" or a "nice guy".  The values we find in the beatitudes surpass the usual standards of goodness set by the world.  For example, the first beatitude says that we must strive to be poor in spirit.  This clashes with a materialistic outlook, so often sanctioned and even encouraged by society.  Let us slowly consider each one of the beatitudes and evaluate ourselves honestly if we are at least trying to live by the standards set in them.

Word Today, June 13, 2000 (Tuesday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 17: 7-15 / Mt 5: 13-16

In the gospel today, Jesus compared his disciples to salt.  He then says that salt would be useless if it were to lose its strength.

We are all familiar with the use of salt as a table condiment.  It gives tang to insipid food. In ancient times, salt had an even more important use.  It was necessary to preserve food from decaying, just as we preserve "daing" and "tuyo" (dried fish) in the Philippines.  On both counts (giving taste and preserving from decay) the Christian presence in the world can be compared to salt.   So we can apply the Lord's warning. If a Christian does not sincerely cultivate his Christian life, his spirituality, then he cannot give his flavor to the surroundings.  He will not be able to fight the forces of decay and corruption in society.

Word Today, June 14, 2000 (Wednesday)

    Lectionary: 1Kgs 18: 20-39 / Mt 5: 17-19

Jesus said that he did not come "to destroy the Law or the Prophets"  but rather "to fulfill them" or to bring them to perfection.

There is a "natural law", based on human nature, which applies to all men.  This law is contained in God's revelation of the Ten Commandments.  No matter what their belief may be, these basic demands of morality are applicable to all men.  But Jesus came to bring us the "law of grace" which brings along with it the help of God to be able to fulfill the requirements of natural law and even go beyond that.  For example, natural law ("Thou shalt not steal") requires that we respect the property of others.  But Christ requires more than justice.  We must practice generosity with others and be willing to part with our own goods for the  needs of others.

Word Today, June 15, 2000 (Thursday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 18: 41-46 / Mt 5: 20-26

In the gospel today, Jesus warns us against harboring hatred towards our neighbor. So important is it to have a heart free of hatred that it even takes precedence over the external fulfillment of our acts of worship.  Indeed, our acts of worship to God would be meaningless or contradictory if we harbored hatred towards any person.

Conflicts with other people, differences of opinion or preferences,  are inevitable.  But these do not have to lead to hatred.  When clashes arise, we should seek to minimize it and, if it does  occur, we should remove any rancor from our  heart.  This is more easily said than done.  Quite often, we need to ask God to give us a heart like Christ's, ready to forgive even those who were unjustly crucifying him.

Word Today, June 16, 2000 (Friday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 19:9, 11-16 / Mt 5: 27-32

Jesus' words are crystal clear: "I say to you that anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Sin comes from the heart of man.  That is why bad thoughts are sinful even if they are not carried out externally.  The struggle to be good must be waged in our thoughts.  This consists of not consenting to the evil suggestions that may come from the devil or our own sensuality.

We should bring the effort to be pure even one step ahead.  Images and other sensory inputs initiate many impure suggestions.  Hence we should guard what we see and hear.  That is why we should avoid forms of entertainment that capitalize on sensuality and impurity.

Word Today, June 17, 2000 (Saturday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 19: 19-21 / Mt 5: 33-37

"Let your speech be, 'Yes, yes'; or 'No, no'."  We can consider these words of Christ as an injunction to be very truthful.  It is very refreshing to know that one is dealing with a person who is sincere.  On the other hand, it is very difficult to deal with a person whose words are not trustworthy.

In order to grow in the virtue of sincerity, we should cultivate a genuine love for the truth.  We must abide by the truth, even if the truth brings difficulties along with it.  Lying tends to feed on itself.  One lie requires another lie in order to cover up.  After a while, a liar may even end up believing his own lies and living in a make-believe world of fantasy.

Word Today, June 18, 2000 (Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity)

    Lectionary: Dt 4: 32-34.39-40 / Rom 8: 14-17 / Mt 28: 16-20

The celebration today has a special significance in this Great Jubilee Year.  Our celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior has profound roots in the Christian belief in God as the Most Holy Trinity.  The one true God is not a lonely God.  He is a God of love, and that love finds its fullest and richest expression in His own Trinitarian love, a love of inner communion.

God destined man to share in this intimate love.  We can compare it to a closely-knit and loving family, which generously invites an orphan to become part of their home.  Adam and Eve failed to live up to the requirements of this invitation.  But God himself remedied this.  The Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity became a man, so that through His human nature, we can be united to the Blessed Trinity and enter into God's love.

Word Today, June 19, 2000 (Monday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 21: 1-16 / Mt 5: 38-42

Jesus Christ rejected the law of Talion, which said, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."  Instead, he encouraged us to be forgiving.  It is in this light that we can understand better what the Church teaches regarding the death penalty.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains the position expounded by the Pope that, at the present time, there can hardly be any justification for the application of such a severe form of punishment. 

If we consider it objectively, the goods that we may want to achieve from the death penalty could be gotten in other ways, without snuffing the life of the criminal.  To execute out of a desire for revenge only prolongs the chain of evil, hatred and suffering that we all want to avoid.

Word Today, June 20, 2000 (Tuesday)

    Lectionary: 1 Kgs 21: 17-29 / Mt 5: 43-48

To the great crowd of people who were listening to him in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ addressed these words that we find in today's gospel reading: "You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect." 

A pioneer in lay spirituality has the following commentary on this passage, which many of us can benefit from: "You have the obligation to sanctify yourself.  Yes, even you!  Who thinks this is the exclusive concern of priests and religious?  To everyone, without exception, our Lord said, 'Be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect.' " (Escriva, The Way, No. 291)

Word Today, June 21, 2000 (Wednesday)

    Lectionary: 2 Kgs 2:1, 6-14 / Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

The gospel message for today can perhaps be summarized as the need to have the right intention in everything we do.  We should not do things in order to be praised by men. 

This idea ties up with today's celebration of the memory of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, one of the early Jesuits whose founder, St. Ignatius, propagated the "battle cry" of ad majorem Dei gloriam, "for the greater glory of God."  It is a good way of making sure that we have the right intention, the correct motivation for all our works and projects.  Some people place the initials "a.m.d.g." in their writings as a concrete way of rectifying their intention.

Word Today, June 22, 2000 (Thursday)

    Lectionary: Sir 48: 1-14 / Mt 6: 7-15

Among the saints that we commemorate today is St. Thomas More, who was a Chancellor of England (the highest position in the land after the King).  He gave up that lucrative post and finally gave up his life, for the defense of the unity of the Church and of the indissolubility of marriage.  He is a fine example of how a good Christian can also be a good public servant.

More than that, he is an example of how we must be true to our conscience in our private and public lives.  When "push came to shove", he had no qualms what position he would take.  His motto was, "I am the king's good servant, but God's first."

 Word Today, June 23, 2000 (Friday)

    Lectionary: 2 Kgs 11: 1-4, 9-18 / Mt 6: 19-23

"Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."  Where is our heart?  Where do our thoughts fly?  Do our thoughts go to ourselves, to what people may think of us?  Do our thoughts go to our pleasures, enjoyment, and our possessions?  Then we can also apply the veiled warning against materialism and selfishness contained in today's gospel.  Such "treasures" will be consumed.  They will be lost when we have to face the next life.

"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven."  If we are blessed by material possessions or special talents, we have to use it for the benefit of others.  At the last judgment, Christ will ask an account of our works of charity.  These are the real treasures that we can take with us beyond the grave.

Word Today, June 24, 2000 (Saturday, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist)

    Lectionary: Is 49: 1-6 / Acts 13: 22-26 / Lk 1: 57-66, 80

St. John the Baptist was the chosen person to prepare the coming of the Messiah.  When Mary visited Elizabeth, the pregnant mother of John the Baptist, the baby in her womb leapt for joy.  The baby in the womb sensed the presence of Christ, also in the womb (of Mary).  The liturgical celebration of John the Baptist's birth is an indication of the belief of the Church that John was sanctified even before he was born.

John the Baptist led an austere life in the wilderness of the mountains of Judea.  His words gained credibility because of his radical detachment from material goods and his difficult lifestyle.  He can be considered a model of the consecrated religious life. By making a radical profession of chastity, poverty and obedience, the consecrated person becomes a credible witness of the Christian message. Let us pray that all consecrated persons be faithful to their vows and their mission.

 Word Today, June 25, 2000 (Sunday, Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ)

    Lectionary: Ex 24: 3-8 / Heb 9: 11-15 / Mk 14: 12-16, 22-26

Today is a day in which we focus on the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  The Pope has said that this Jubilee Year will be a Eucharistic year.  A Eucharistic Congress is culminating in Rome.  In our own place, we can be united with the whole Catholic world in today's celebration.

Let us do something special today to manifest our faith in the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.  We could make sure that our attendance at Mass is a truly fervent one.  We could go out of our way and join the procession with the Blessed Sacrament that will be held in many parishes.  Or we could simply make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in our own parish church or in the adoration chapel.

Word Today, June 26, 2000 (Monday)

    Lectionary: 2 Kgs 17: 5-8, 13-15 / Mt 7: 1-5

Today we can celebrate the memory of Blessed Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei who died on June 26, 1975, exactly twenty-five years ago.  The Pope beatified him in 1992.  He was a very holy priest who faithfully carried out the mission God gave him in 1928 to spread the message of the universal call to sanctity.  We are all called to be saints.  Holiness is not limited to a few special persons.

This message is at the heart of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.  And so Blessed Josemaria Escriva is considered to be an important precursor to the Second Vatican Council, the Church event that has brought so many blessings to the world.  As a person who has been beatified, the Church acknowledges his holiness, encourages Catholics to turn to his intercession, and to imitate his virtues in their own specific way.

Word Today, June 27, 2000 (Tuesday)

    Lectionary: 2 Kgs 19:9-11, 14-21, 31-35 / Mt 7: 6, 12-14

Today we remember St. Cyril of Alexandria, a Doctor of the Church who led the opposition to the Nestorian heresy, which denied the unity of Jesus Christ as well as the divine motherhood of Mary.  In the Council of Ephesus, held in the year 431, the Church defined the doctrine that Mary can be truly called "Mother of God" because Jesus Christ, her son, is true God.

When we pray the "Hail Mary", we address the Virgin Mary as "Holy Mary, Mother of God."  Because is the mother of the God-made-man, Mary has a very special role in our redemption.  Just as she was God's instrument for the Christ to enter into the world, she is now God's instrument for Christ to enter into our hearts.  Let us turn to Mary, and she will lead us to Jesus.

Word Today, June 28, 2000 (Wednesday)

    Lectionary: 2 Kgs 22: 8-13, 23: 1-3 / Mt 7: 15-20

"Beware of false prophets… You will be able to tell them by their fruits."  This is a sound piece of advice to help us discern true from false teachers.  Wrong teaching will end up in wrong practices.

The Christian faithful have a certain sensitivity to what is right and wrong when it comes to faith and morals.  Some people call it "having a Catholic nose."  The documents of the Church refer to the so-called "sensus fidelium", or sense of the faithful.  While matters of faith are not decided by a raising of hands, pastors would do well in being attentive to the sensibilities of the Christian faithful.  We must give importance to the different manifestations of popular piety.

Word Today, June 29, 2000 (Thursday, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles)

    Lectionary: Acts 12: 1-11 / 2 Tm 4: 6-8, 17-18 / Mt 16: 13-19

The celebration of the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul is very important for the whole Church.  St. Peter was designated by Christ to be the head of the Catholic Church.  St. Paul, by a special plan of God, was the great apostle of the gentiles, the person who made the Church spread out because of his apostolic zeal.  Both these apostles were martyred in the City of Rome, thus making Rome the center of the Catholic world.

The Pope is the head of the Church because, as bishop of Rome, he is the successor of St. Peter. Because of St. Peter, the Church of Rome was, from the earliest days of Christianity, accepted as the head of all the other Churches.  This primacy and leadership is not exercised in a despotic way, but it is a service of charity.  When the Pope exercises his authority, he is doing what Christ told Peter to do, "Feed my lambs…feed my sheep."

Word Today, June 30, 2000 (Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart)

    Lectionary: Hos 11: 1, 3-4, 8-9 / Eph 3: 8-12, 14-19 / Jn 9: 31-37

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus emphasizes the great love that Jesus Christ, who is both God and man, has for all of us.  The heart refers to the whole human personality, the deepest core of our being.  The divine love, which is infinite, is manifested to us in a very human way.  There is a saying in Spanish, "Amor con amor se paga." (Love is reciprocated by love)

When we realize how much Christ loves us, we will be drawn to love him in return.  "Greater love than this, no man has, that he should lay down his life for his friends."  The ultimate proof of Christ's love for each one of us was his passion and death on the cross.  That is why the Sacred Heart of Jesus is represented to us as burning in flames (representing love), wounded and surrounded by a crown of thorns.  Let us exclaim, "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!".

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