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Word Today, November 1, 2000 (Solemnity of All Saints)

    Readings: Apoc 7: 2-4. 9-14 / 1 Jn 3: 1-3 / Mt 5: 1-12

The Church dedicates the next two days to our deceased brothers and sisters.  Today, November 1, we remember all those who are already in heaven.  Tomorrow, we remember all the faithful departed, especially those who are still undergoing purification in the state of purgatory.

In the Philippines we have the custom of visiting the cemeteries or other final resting places of our loved ones.  This is a beautiful custom that arises from the doctrine of the "communion of the saints".  We believe that in God, through Christ, we are still united to all those who have left this earthly life.  We do well in remembering them, either praying for their eternal rest or even asking them to intercede to God on our behalf.

Just a brief reminder found in the liturgical books: On the first eight days of November, the faithful may gain a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead.  On Nov. 1 and 2 and on the Sunday before or after November 2, one plenary indulgence can be gained by visiting a church or oratory and by praying the Our Father and the Creed, and a prayer for the intention of the Pope. We will talk more about indulgences tomorrow.

Word Today, November 2, 2000 (Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed)

    Readings:  Any readings in the Lectionary for Masses of the Dead

We talked yesterday about the plenary indulgences that we could gain this November.  A church indulgence is the removal of the temporal punishment due to our sins.  Even if our sins have been forgiven in confession and through other penitential practices (for venial sins), we must still be purified from their effects.  It is like a sickness.  We may be cured of it, but it still leaves ravages in our body, requiring healing and purification (detoxification). 

The temporal punishment, that will leave us "purified" to be able to enter heaven, may be done on earth while we are alive; it may also take place after death through purgatory.  A plenary (full) indulgence removes all temporal punishment and prepares the soul to enter heaven immediately.  A partial indulgence removes only some of it.

Let us try to gain many indulgences.  We can only gain one plenary indulgence for a given day.  By the mystery of the communion of saints, we who are still living may apply these indulgences to the dead still undergoing purification.

Word Today, November 3, 2000 (Friday of 30th Week)

    Readings: Phil 1: 1-11 / Lk 14: 1-6

It was a Sabbath day, when it was forbidden to work.  But here was a man who was sick and was obviously in need of help.  The enemies of Jesus were waiting for the opportunity to pounce on him, to accuse him of some misdeed.  If he cured the man, he could be accused of "working" on the Sabbath.  In spite of the bad will of his enemies, Jesus did not hesitate to do the good deed of curing the man.

We should not hesitate to do good even if those around us interpret it badly.  We should not give in to so-called "human respects". To have human respects means being guided not so much by what is good and correct, but by what people will think of us. Let us never be afraid to be consistent with our faith.  For example, in many environments the conversation veers to topics and attitudes that are clearly unchristian.  Let us not be afraid to steer it back and to show our Christian moral principles.

Word Today, November 4, 2000 (Saturday of the 30th Week)

    Readings:  Phil 1: 18-26 / Lk 14: 1. 7-11

In today's gospel, Jesus noticed how people wanted to get the places of honor, the best places.  He corrected this attitude and summarized his preaching thus: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted."

How much effort people put into getting recognition and admiration!  And how little effort they put into getting close to God!  Some people are always on the lookout for occasions to be recognized and appreciated.  There is much noise and fanfare at the beginning of a project, but little action when it comes to the silent work required. 

Word Today, November 5, 2000 (31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

    Readings:  Dt 6: 2-6 / Heb 7: 23-28 / Mk 12: 28-34

In the gospel today, we once again see how Jesus emphasizes the "Great Commandment" which summarizes all commandments.  This commandment is: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength."  In its original form, from the Book of Deuteronomy, God tells the Chosen People how they ought to receive this commandment. "Take to heart these words… Drill them into your children.  Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest."

We can never exaggerate this commandment.  We must evaluate all our actions on the standard set by this commandment.  The smallest action, if done with great love of God, becomes great and very pleasing in God's sight.  The greatest external action, done from self-seeking, loses much of its worth.

Word Today, November 6, 2000 (Monday of 31st Week)

    Readings: Phil 2: 1-4 / Lk 14: 12-14

"When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and you shall be blessed because they have nothing to repay you with; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

One message of this advice of Jesus is that we should not do things thinking only of the profit we shall gain for it in this life.  We must think of the reward in the next life, "at the resurrection of the just."  We can apply this especially when it comes to doing favors for other people.  Do we feel slighted or offended if the person we have helped does not show gratitude?  That is but natural.  But we should go beyond this reaction by rectifying our intention.  When we do not get appreciation on earth, we should be happy because we shall receive a greater reward for that favor in the next life.

Word Today, November 7, 2000 (Tuesday of 31st Week)

    Readings:  Phil 2: 5-11 / Lk 14: 15-24

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and make them come in, so that my house may be filled."  These words of Christ applied, in the first place, to the rejection of the Hebrews of his time in favor of the Gentiles.  But we can also apply this to our present situation.

God wants all men to be saved.  We must go out in search of these people.  No matter how far a person may seem from God, we should never give up.  Our role is like the servants of the parable – to go out into the highways and hedges.  We must not wait for people to come to God; we must go in search of them.

Word Today, November 8, 2000 (Wednesday of the 31st Week)

    Readings: Phil 2: 12-18 / Lk 14: 25-33

"He who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple."  There can be no Christianity without the cross.

While the Christian life is a life of joy, it is not a life of "fun."  Frivolity, the attitude of "having a nice time" at all costs, is incompatible with the following of Christ.  The Christian ideals of service to God and to our neighbors require effort, endurance and self-denial.  For example, the works of mercy that are part and parcel of Christian action, often require self-forgetfulness to serve our neighbors.

Word Today, November 9, 2000 (The Dedication of St. John Lateran)

    Readings:  Ez 47: 1-2. 8-9.12 / 1 Cor 3: 9-11. 16-17 / Jn 2: 13-22

Today is the anniversary of the dedication of the church of St. John Lateran.  In the Philippines there is a school named after this church.  The school, run by the Dominicans, is called Letran College or San Juan de Letran. What is this church and what is its significance?

The church of St. John Lateran is the church of the Pope as bishop of Rome.  As such, it is considered like the "mother" of all churches.  We know of course that we, the Christian people, are the Church.  But today, we can consider the value of the church as a building.

Because the church is the house of God and our place of prayer, we must maintain the church in a dignified way.  In the first place, we should keep it clean and in good repair.  We should not hesitate to use good and dignified materials for the church.  To help in the construction of churches is one of the best uses one can make of one's material resources.  By helping in church construction, we will end up helping many people get closer to God.  We will also contribute very directly to God's worship.

Word Today, November 10, 2000 (Friday of 31st Week)

    Readings: Phil 3: 17- 4: 1 / Lk 16: 1-8

At the end of the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus Christ observes that "the children of this world, in relation to their own generation, are more prudent than the children of the light."

How often we can see the truth of this assertion!  For example, those who are trying to introduce immoral customs avail of very clever human stratagems in order to achieve their goal.  Quite often, those who oppose them lack the human preparation to do so effectively.

It need not be that way.  Christians should form themselves to be competent and knowledgeable in the different fields of human endeavor.  That way, the "children of the light" can be more resourceful in making the Christian message penetrate society.

Word Today, November 11, 2000 (Saturday of the 31st Week)

    Readings:  Phil 4: 10-19 / Lk 16: 9-15

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much."  The struggle to be faithful to our calling and commitments must be brought to the arena of small concrete realities.

For example, if a married person is to be faithful, he/she must strive to do so through little things.  They must be faithful in thoughts, not entertaining suggestions of infidelity.  They must be faithful in small actions, showing their love for their partner in concrete details.  A husband could be more thoughtful, and occasionally bring home something his wife would appreciate.  A wife could show her love by preparing a small detail in the meals,  to give a bit of joy to her husband when he returns after a hard day's work.

Word Today, November 12, 2000 (32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

    Readings:  1 Kgs 17: 10-16 / Heb 12: 24-28 / Mk 12: 38-44

We can almost imagine the glint in Jesus' eyes as he called his disciples together to express his admiration for the generosity of the widow who had put in a little amount "out of her want."   The joy of Jesus was not dictated by the external amount of the contribution to the temple.  He was more concerned for the attitude of generosity and abandonment shown in the action of the poor widow.

It is the heart that matters.  Let us not be cold and calculating in our service to God.  Let us learn from that big-hearted woman, to trust in God and generously surrender our life to Him.

Word Today, November 13, 2000 (Monday of 32nd Week)

    Readings: Tit 2: 1-8.11-14 / Lk 17: 1-6

Jesus Christ has very strong words of reproach for those who "should lead astray a single one of these little ones."  In a very colorful imagery, Christ says of those who cause others to sin (this is the meaning of "scandal"), that a heavy stone should be tied around their necks and then be thrown into the sea.

If we think that murder is very bad because it is to kill another human being, then we can understand how bad it is to cause scandal, because it means to take away the spiritual life of another person.  It is like spiritual murder.  For example, some persons dress very provocatively out of sheer vanity.  Little do they realize that such behavior could be causing great harm to other people.

Word Today, November 14, 2000 (Tuesday of 32nd Week)

    Readings: Tit 2: 1-8. 11-14 / Lk 17: 7-10

"When you have done everything that was commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.'"  What a wonderful program and attitude Jesus  proposes to us in this gospel. We should strive to do our duties and then, instead of feeling smug about ourselves for having done it, we should not give ourselves too much importance.

How often people behave differently! Many do not have a sense of duty, but only do things because of the contingency of the moment.  Many more, after having done what they were duty-bound to do, seek praise and adulation from other people. It is a wonderful way of growing in humility to simply do what we have to do, and go on to the next job without being complacent about it.

Word Today, November 15, 2000 (Wednesday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: Tit 3: 1-7 / Lk 17: 11-19

How often we behave like the 9 lepers whom Jesus Christ cured in today's gospel reading. We are so overjoyed by the boon we have received, we forget to give thanks to the giver. Jesus Christ appreciated the lone ex-leper who returned to thank his benefactor.

We owe God everything -- our life, our possessions, whatever skills or talents we may have. God is our father and he wants us to be happy. The imperative for us to give thanks to God does not arise from any kind of need on the part of God. It is rather a need coming from us. We must recognize the source of all the good things we have so that we can orient them properly. Whatever good we have received from God is not for our enjoyment alone. They are there for a purpose -- to serve God and others.

Word Today, November 16, 2000 (Thursday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings:  Philem 7-20 / Lk 17: 20-25

"When is the kingdom of God coming?... The kingdom of God comes unawares."  While not exactly referring to this, we can accommodate today's gospel reading to clarify some things that we are presently witnessing.  As the year comes to an end, especially in these first years of the third Christian millennium, there is a tendency for so-called "millennarist" tendencies to arise.  All kinds of catastrophic predictions appear, attributed to prophets or saints.

We should be wary of such predictions.  The Pope has said, "As the third millennium of the Redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity and we can already see its first signs."  Purification is indeed a necessary part of this new era, but it need not come as catastrophic chastisements. As Christians, we should have a basic optimism -- Christ is risen, Christ has conquered, although we still have to cooperate with God in the work of Redemption.

Word Today, November 17, 2000 (Friday of 32nd Week)

    Readings: 2 Jn 4-9 / Lk 17: 26-37

In the gospel today, Jesus referred to the Old Testament incident in which the wife of Lot turned into a pillar of salt as they were fleeing from the destruction of the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah where the family of Lot had been residing.

In a symbolic way, we can apply this incident to our own life's journey.  Once we have seen what God wants of us, we should not look back and yearn for our former way of life.  This is especially applicable to those who have a vocation to serve the Church, such as priests, religious and other dedicated persons.  Do not look back to those things that you have already given up.  Give them up wholeheartedly and with confidence in God.  Look ahead, not behind.

Word Today, November 18, 2000 (Saturday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: 3 Jn 5-8 / Lk 18: 1-8

"He told them a parable, that they must always pray and not lose heart."  This was the lesson of the parable of the insistent widow who ceaselessly "nagged" the unjust judge to give her justice.  In Pilipino, we refer to a very persistent person as being "makulit".  The term tends to be derogatory.

But when it comes to our dealings with God, to be "makulit" is not something bad. There are so many examples in the Scripture where God allows himself to be moved by the persistence of a person's prayer.  The more persistent we are in prayer, the more our faith is evident.  And it is faith that God looks for in our prayer.  Let us pray with faith (and therefore with perseverance) and our prayers will surely be answered.

Word Today, November 19, 2000 (33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

    Readings:  Dan 12: 1-3 / Heb 10: 11-14.18 / Mk 13: 24-32

The gospel today is about the signs of the "last day", the Day of Judgment, what most people refer to as "the end of the world."  Jesus speaks about cosmic events that will precede the coming of the Son of Man "with great power and majesty."  From the Creed, we know that these events will be followed by the General Judgment.  While Jesus spoke of some signs, he also said, "of that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."  Hence we have to be watchful.

But to be watchful does not mean to be apprehensive.  We should not be easily taken in by prophets of doom or alleged predictions that the end of the world is close at hand.  We should take such predictions with a grain of salt, precisely because we know that we don't know.  So when someone, on the basis of "private revelations" which may be of questionable origin, proposes a very concrete time for the end of the world, then we can be sure that something is amiss.

Word Today, November 20, 2000 (Monday of 33rd Week)

    Readings: Apoc 1: 1-4; 2: 1-5 / Lk 18: 35-43

"Lord, that I may see."  This was the request of the blind man at Jericho.  We can apply this, allegorically, to ourselves.

Faith is a kind of supernatural "light" that enables us to see things from the point of view of God and of the revealed truths.  Thus, we can ask God to give us this light by praying "Lord, that I may see."  Lord, let me see your providence in all things that happen to me.  Lord let me see your hand in the joys and sorrows that cross the path of my life.  If we have this vision of faith, everything in our life will have a deep meaning.

Word Today, November 21, 2000 (The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin)

    Readings:  Apoc 3: 1-6. 14-22 / Lk 19: 1-10 or Zech 2: 14-17 / Mt 12: 46-50

Today's celebration refers to an ancient tradition that Mary was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple.  We should not confuse this with the Presentation of Jesus by Mary and Joseph, which is celebrated on February 2.  The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin evokes Mary's total dedication to God, a dedication related to her mission to be the mother of the Redeemer and to be the closest human collaborator of God in the work of our Redemption.

In the gospel today, Jesus said that "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother."  This is not a belittling of Mary's role.  Rather, it emphasizes Mary's free and wholehearted cooperation in our Redemption.  She fulfilled her mission by doing the will of God, thus allowing the power of God to work the miracle of the incarnation in her body.  We can make her decisive answer a motto for our actions: "I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me as you say."

Word Today, November 22, 2000 (Wednesday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: Apoc 4: 1-11 / Lk 19: 11-18

"And having summoned ten of his servants, he gave them ten gold pieces and said to them, 'Trade till I come.' "  This phrase contains the meaning of our life on earth.  This earth is not our final dwelling place.  We shall all die.  But we have to make use of the "gold pieces", of the talents, opportunities and time that we have received from God, while we live.

We should therefore be prodded on to do good while we can.  We cannot be a Christian and live a useless, idle and egocentric life.  When the end of our life comes, the King will ask us how we have made use of his gold pieces.

Word Today, November 23, 2000 (Thursday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: Apoc 5: 1-10 / Lk 19: 41-44

"And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it."  Jesus wept over Jerusalem because he foresaw the destruction it would undergo.   He also wept because he realized how many would fail to avail of the sacrifice he would undergo for their sake.  These are tears of love and not of hatred, anger or frustration.

The Christian life consists of having a personal relationship of love and friendship with Christ.  It involves the heart and the mind -- the whole man.  We must realize how much Christ loves us and how he would weep for us.  Then we can more easily love him in return.

Word Today, November 24, 2000 (Friday of 33rd Week)

    Readings: Apoc 10: 8-11 / Lk 19: 45-48

In today's gospel, we see how Jesus drove out those who were selling and buying in the temple, with a very straightforward reason: "My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves."

The Holy Curate of Ars, St. John Vianney, once said in his catechetical classes: "The church is the home of souls; it is the house belonging to us, who are Christians.  Well, in this house there is a storeroom.  Do you see the tabernacle?...It is the storeroom," where the food for our souls is kept.

If Christ was filled with so much zeal for the temple, which was just a foreshadowing of the reality, how much more zealous should we be for the care of our churches where the true body and blood of Christ are reserved?

Word Today, November 25, 2000 (Saturday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: Apoc 11: 4-12 / Lk 20: 27-40

The Sadducees tried to trap Jesus by giving him an apparently difficult legal puzzle.  Following the so-called levirate law, a widow had to be wed to her brother-in-law in order to continue the lineage of the deceased brother.  The important thing here is the clarification made by Christ: "The children of this world marry..." but in the next world marriage will no longer matter "for they are equal to the angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection."

The Church teaches the great value of marriage.  In fact it is a "sacrament", a holy sign of God's presence, a source of grace and holiness.  At the same time, the Church teaches the greater value of virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. But this latter alternative is not for the majority of Christians since the kingdom of heaven has to spread through Christian families.  Apostolic celibacy is a gift and a grace of God.  In the Roman Catholic Church, the promise of celibacy is a necessary condition for the conferment of the sacrament of Holy Orders.  If there is a vocation, the gift and the grace to fulfill that promise will follow provided the subject cooperates with God.

Word Today, November 26, 2000 (Solemnity of Christ, the King of the Universe)

    Readings:  Dan 7: 13-14 / Apoc 1: 5-8 / Jn 18: 33-37

The Church devotes the last Sunday of the liturgical year, which is today, to the celebration of Christ as the King of the Universe.  This celebration is like an optimistic reminder of a truth that is in the making, just as we pray in the Our Father, "Thy kingdom come!"

In this connection, one of the messages of Pope John Paul II for World Mission Sunday is very relevant.  He said: "In modern culture there is a widespread expectation for a new era of peace, wellbeing, solidarity, respect for human rights, universal love.  Enlightened by the Spirit, the Church proclaims that this kingdom of justice, peace and love, already announced in the Gospel, is mysteriously brought about with the passing of time, thanks to individuals, families and communities who choose to live Christ's teaching in a radical way, in the spirit of the Beatitudes."

Let us try to be among those individuals, families or communities who will contribute to the coming of the kingdom because of our radical acceptance of the demands of the Gospel.

Word Today, November 27, 2000 (Monday of 34th Week)

    Readings: Apoc 14: 1-3. 4-5 / Lk 21: 1-4

"Truly I say to you, this widow (who had actually put in only a small amount of money in the collection box of the temple) has put in more than all."

We all have the duty to support the Church.  And we should not be grudging in giving this support.  It is the giver who benefits most.  There was a time when God inspired the founding of the so-called "mendicant orders", whose members were required to live on the alms from the faithful.  In our times, the congregation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Sisters of Charity, helps the destitute and the needy, living the very same lifestyle of poverty as their beneficiaries.  Through such initiatives and many more similar ones, God is helping all of us to be more generous.  When we face God at the moment of judgment, it is not the wealth that we have amassed on earth that will matter, but what we have treasured up in heaven -- what we have given away for God's works.

November 28, 2000 (Tue) up to December 4 (Monday), to be sent Nov. 20 (Monday)

Word Today, November 28, 2000 (Tuesday  of the 34th Week)

    Readings: Apoc 14: 14-19 / Lk 21: 5-11

The gospel today contains the prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the end of the world.  A phrase from Christ can help us have the proper perspective in this regard: "But when you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; these must first come to pass, but the end will not be at once."

We should be very sober and wary in the presence of "prophets of doom", taking advantage of the sense of foreboding accompanying the third Christian millennium.  Only God knows when the end of the world will come.  It is our task to prepare ourselves for our personal end of the world -- when we have to face our Creator and render an account of the life he has given us.

Word Today, November 29, 2000 (Wednesday of the 34th Week)

    Readings: Apoc 15: 1-4 / Lk 21: 12-19

After describing the difficulties that his followers must be ready to undergo, Jesus tells them, "By your patience you will win your souls."  Other translations speak of "perseverance" and preserving our life.  The ideas of patience and perseverance are especially useful for us.

In Pilipino, we talk of "ningas kogon".  It is the quick fire that burns off the dry hillside grass, that is quickly kindled and even more quickly extinguished.  It is a very common trait of ours to begin but not to finish.  In the spiritual life, we must consciously work for perseverance.  No worthy goal is achieved without trials.  So when difficulties arise in the pursuit of a worthy project, such as a divine calling or a work of charity, let us continue on in spite of difficulties.

Word Today, November 30, 2000 (St. Andrew, Apostle)

    Readings: Rom 10: 9-18 / Mt 4: 18-22

Today is the feast of the apostle St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter.  In the Philippines, this day is also celebrated as National Heroes Day, but this national celebration is based on the celebration of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the revolutionary Katipunan movement.  Bonifacio was obviously named after St. Andrew.

St. Andrew's celebration could be a good reminder for us to share our religious convictions with our family members and close friends.  The gospel of John narrates how Andrew led Peter to Jesus and how Christ then got to know Philip, a town mate of the two brothers.  Close family and friends should be the first object of the apostolic concern of a Christian.

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