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Word Today, Nov. 1, 2001 (All Saints Solemnity)

    Readings: Rv 7:2-4, 9-14/ 1 Jn 3:1-3/ Mt 5:1-12a  

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.  

Word Today, Nov. 2, 2001 (Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed [All Souls])

    Readings: Dn 12:1-3 / Rom 6:3-9 or 6:3-4, 8-9 / Jn 6:37-40 or any readings taken from Masses for the Dead 

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, Nov. 3, 2001 (Saturday of the 30th Week)

    Readings: Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29/ 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.  

Some people are always looking for opportunities for publicity. That may not be wrong in itself, provided publicity is not motivated by pride. However, we should exert much more effort just to do what we are supposed to do. We can accept the recognition that will come with work well done, but we should not work just for the sake of recognition. 

Word Today, Nov. 4, 2001 (Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time)

    Readings: Wis 11:22--12:2/ 2 Thes 1:11--2:2/ Lk 19:1-10  

Jesus could read men's hearts. He knew that the short man up in the tree was not there out of mere curiosity. He could see that the grace of God had touched Zaccheus' heart, and that there had been a conversion. And He was right. "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." (Lk 19:8) We can learn many things from this short man. But today, we can concentrate on his decision to restore whatever he had dishonestly gained.  

True conversion always implies the desire to restitute. Sorrow or contrition means the desire not to have done the wrong for which we are sorry. Therefore, it necessarily implies the desire to repair any evil effects that may have ensued from our wrongdoing. For example, if we are sorry for having stolen or cheated, then we should try our best to return whatever we have gained dishonestly, to its rightful owner. If we are sorry for having gossiped or backbited (and this is a sin so common nowadays, but many people don't even realize it), we should try to restore the honor of that person whom we have unjustly defamed. If we are not willing to make restitution, then we are not truly sorry. And without genuine sorrow, no forgiveness is possible.  

Word Today, Nov. 5, 2001 (Monday of the 31st Week)

    Readings: Rom 11:29-36/ 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, Nov. 6, 2001 (Tuesday of the 31st Week)

    Readings: Rom 12:5-16a/ 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, Nov. 7, 2001 (Wednesday of the 31st Week)

    Readings: Rom 13:8-10/ 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, Nov. 8, 2001 (Thursday of the 31st Week)

    Readings: Rom 14:7-12/ Lk 15:1-10  

The gospel today illustrates how God is always ready to forgive a person who is sorry. God is like the good shepherd whose concern goes out toward the lost sheep. God is like the woman who has lost a valuable amount, and exerts all her effort to recover it. 

We should never give up in our struggle against sin and vice. We should not give in to despair or discouragement. After we have realized our faults and miseries, we should then focus on the goodness of God, on his readiness to recover us. Like a good father, God is ready to overlook our faults, provided we turn our hearts back to Him.  

Word Today, Nov. 9, 2001 (Friday of the 31st Week, The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome)

    Readings: Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 / 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17 / Jn 2:13-22 or any readings taken from the Common of the Dedication of a Church 

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 we can make of our 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, Nov. 10, 2001 (Saturday of the 31st Week)

    Readings: Rom 16:3-9, 16, 22-27/ 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, Nov. 11, 2001 (Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time)

    Readings: 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14/ 2 Thes 2:16--3:5/ Lk 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38  

We can draw some practical conclusions from the truth of the future resurrection of our bodies. In the first place, instead of being frightened to inaction and paralysis at the thought of death, we should be spurred on by that idea, to earn the eternal reward of heaven and our glorious resurrection. The sickness and suffering that we all undergo in this life will be surpassed by the eternal state of glory and happiness that we all hope to achieve.  

In the second place, we must be imbued with a deep reverence for our bodies and the bodies of other people. Christianity has never considered the body as something bad. On the contrary, although the body has to be disciplined because of the effects of original sin, it has to be respected and, out of respect, it has to be treated with dignity and not just as an instrument of pleasure or exploitation. This reverence for the body is manifested, among other things, by the virtue of modesty. Modesty is not something of the past. Modesty is a safeguard for human dignity and for the respect we owe ourselves and other people.  

Word Today, Nov. 12, 2001 (Monday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: Wis 1:1-7/ Lk 17:1-6  

Jesus Christ has very strong words of reproach for those who "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. Scandal implies 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, Nov. 13, 2001 (Tuesday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: Wis 2:23--3:9/ 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, Nov. 14, 2001 (Wednesday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: Wis 6:1-11/ 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, Nov. 15, 2001 (Thursday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: Wis 7:22--8:1/ 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 that the third millennium of the Redemption is like 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, Nov. 16, 2001 (Friday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: (Wis 13:1-9/ 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, Nov. 17, 2001 (Saturday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9/ Lk 18:1-8  

"He told them a parable, that they must always pray and not lose heart." This was the object 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, Nov. 18, 2001 (Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time)

    Readings: Mal 3:19-20a/ 2 Thes 3:7-12/ Lk 21:5-19  

After warning His followers of the possible difficulties that they can expect, Jesus Christ ends the gospel reading of today by exhorting them to perseverance. "Your endurance will win your lives." Faced with difficulties, we have to continue along our way to God. And we should not be surprised if perseverance in the good path can prove to be arduous.  

Perseverance is actually a gift of God. No one can be sure in this life of his own perseverance. St. Paul said that we have to work out our salvation "in fear and trembling." But we can ask God for the grace of final perseverance. This means that we cannot become self-complacent and take our perseverance for granted. There is a need for constant struggle and renewal. Yet we have the assurance of victory if we rely on the goodness and mercy of God. To rely on God means to pray, to implore God's help. Therefore, the key to final perseverance is prayer. Pray humbly and sincerely, and God will grant you the grace to endure and persevere. Stop praying and rely on your own talents, and you will surely fall headlong into infidelity.  

Word Today, Nov. 19, 2001 (Monday of the 32nd Week)

    Readings: 1 Mc 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64/ Lk 18:35-43 (497) 

"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, Nov. 20, 2001 (Tuesday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: 2 Mc 6:18-31/ Lk 19:1-10

Zaccheus of Jericho is one of the most attractive personalities in the gospel. He was not held back by shame or human respect in order to see Jesus. Even if he had an important reputation, he was not too proud to acknowledge his small physical stature. He ended up climbing a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus.   

But we get an even better picture of Zaccheus' mettle in the aftermath. When he met Jesus, his first reaction was to make amends for his wrongdoing. "If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I return it fourfold." The willingness to amend our wrongdoing, together with our readiness to confess, is the clear sign that we are truly sorry for our faults and sins. 

Word Today, Nov. 21, 2001 (The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

    Readings: 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31/ Lk 19:11-28 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, 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, Nov. 22, 2001 (Thursday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: 1 Mc 2:15-29/ 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, Nov. 23, 2001 (Friday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: 1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59/ 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 is reserved? 

Word Today, Nov. 24, 2001 (Saturday of the 33rd Week)

    Readings: 1 Mc 6:1-13/ 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, Nov. 25, 2001 (Solemnity of Christ, the King of the Universe)

    Readings: 2 Sm 5:1-3/ Col 1:12-20/ Lk 23:35-43   

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, Nov. 26, 2001 (Monday of the 34th Week)

    Readings: Dn 1:1-6, 8-20/ 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. 

Word Today, Nov. 27, 2001 (Tuesday of the 34th Week)

    Readings: Dn 2:31-45/ 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, Nov. 28, 2001 (Wednesday of the 34th Week)

    Readings: Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28/ 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, Nov. 29, 2001 (Thursday of the 34th Week)

    Readings: Dn 6:12-28/ Lk 21:20-28 (506)  

The gospel today talks about the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. "And then they will see the Son of Man coming upon a cloud with great power and majesty." 

Let us remember that this very same Christ who will come in power and majesty comes to us, if we wish to, even daily, in apparent weakness and humility. He comes to us when we receive him in the Eucharist. Let us see to it that we are properly prepared to receive Christ by confession if we are aware of being in grave sin. 

Word Today, Nov. 30, 2001 (Saint 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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