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JULY 2002

Word Today,
July 1, 2002 (Monday of the 13th Week)

    Readings: Am 2:6-10, 13-16/ Mt 8:18-22  

The gospel today seems to follow in the same line as yesterday's -- it speaks of the demands of Christ. This time, it refers to detachment from material comforts. Those who want to follow Christ must be ready to live a life of mastery over material things, since the Son of Man "has nowhere to lay his head." 

Many people fail to follow Christ's teachings because they are caught up by all the cares of this world. Classical spiritual writers would explain that in a wrestling match, the contenders go in to the arena with little on because the more they have, the more the opponent has something to drag them down with. For most people in the middle of the world, this does not mean that they cannot own things. What it means is that they have to treat things that they own with detachment and self-mastery. 

Word Today, July 2, 2002 (Tuesday of the 13th Week )

    Readings: Am 3:1-8; 4:11-12/ Mt 8:23-27  

The incident of the "storm on the lake" contains a hidden lesson for our spiritual life. The apostles were very upset because of the storm and so they woke up Jesus Christ who was fast asleep. He then reprimanded them for their lack of faith. It was as if he were telling them, "As long as I am with you, no harm can come to you." 

At times we know that Christ is with us, because we are in the state of grace. But we might feel that Christ is asleep because things don't seem to go the way we want it. Then we must ask for greater faith. As long as Christ is in our boat, as long as we have not rejected him, we can be sure that all will go well, even if we do not have any sensible consolations of his presence. 

Word Today, July 3, 2002 (Saint Thomas, apostle)

    Readings: Eph 2:19-22/ Jn 20:24-29 

The apostle Thomas is one of the most attractive characters in the gospel. Like many of us, he tended to rely a lot on his own judgment. We also see that before the passion of Christ, he was firmly committed to Christ, even ready to die for the Master. But great love can also give rise to great disappointment. His disappointment was so deep that he hesitated to believe in the resurrection of Christ. Perhaps he did not want to believe and then get hurt again. 

How good Jesus is to bend to the needs of Thomas! Jesus accommodated himself to what Thomas wanted - not just to see, but to touch the wounds. And with that obstacle out of the way, the faith of Thomas would be revived in a wonderful phrase that says all: "My Lord and my God!" Whenever we find our faith wavering, let us repeat this phrase of Thomas, the doubting apostle. 

Word Today, July 4, 2002 (Thursday of the 13th Week)

    Readings: Am 7:10-17/ Mt 9:1-8  

The enemies of Jesus found fault for his saying that the paralytic's sins were forgiven. To prove to them that He had a divine power, and so could forgive sins, Jesus then performed the miracle of curing the man's limbs. 

Jesus is interested in the whole man. But notice that priority is given to the man's soul rather than the body. Indeed, in the long run, the bodily miracle would disappear in death. But the spiritual miracle of forgiveness can continue beyond death. Now in God's friendship, that paralyzed man can look forward to the reward of heaven and eternal happiness. 

Word Today, July 5, 2002 (Friday of the 13th Week)

    Readings: Am 8:4-6, 9-12/ Mt 9:9-13  

The gospel today is about the calling of Matthew to be an apostle. He was called by Christ as he sat at his work, which was that of a tax collector. As a consequence of Christ's friendship with Matthew and his colleagues, many Pharisees were scandalized because they considered tax collectors as public sinners. We of course know that there is nothing wrong with collecting taxes. But in that situation of subjection to Roman authority, tax collectors were considered "collaborators" with the enemy. 

Jesus Christ did not disdain Matthew's job. The calling to the apostolate came in the midst of his work. We can learn from this that all honest human professions are acceptable to God. Besides, God meets us right where we are, even in the hustle and bustle of our professional activities. 

Word Today, July 6, 2002 (Saturday of the 13th Week)

    Readings: Am 9:11-15/ Mt 9:14-17  

Christ made use of very practical examples to get his message across. In the gospel today, he compared his message and the new dispensation (the era of grace) to new patching or to new wine. The new must go with the new, and the old with the old. Christ's message is very new, it is "news", the good news. It requires a fresh approach, and openness to his message. 

To be open to the novelty of Christ's message, we must be ready to do away with our old ways. That is why it is good to go on moments of retreat or recollection, in which we seek to renew ourselves. At these times, we must be ready to give up the bad habits that the Holy Spirit makes us realize in ourselves. Then we can put on the new image of Christ. 


    Readings: Zec 9:9-10/ Rom 8:9, 11-13/ Mt 11:25-30  

Today's gospel contains these very consoling and reassuring words of Christ: "Take up my burden and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Are we not all longing for deep peace of soul? Here is the answer. Learn to accept God's will, bravely take up the burden God has put on your shoulder. 

To do this, we must imitate Christ in his meekness and humility. Humility means love for the truth -- the truth that everything good we have comes from God. Meekness does not mean shyness, timidity, cowardliness or weakness of character. How could Christ be like that? Meekness is more akin to kindness and understanding towards others. To be kind to others, not to lose our temper easily, is not a sign of weakness but of strength. On the contrary, the person who immediately flares up shows his weakness of character. 

Word Today, July 8, 2002 ( Monday of the 14th Week)

    Readings: Hos 2:16, 17b-18, 21-22/ Mt 9:18-26  

The woman had been bleeding for twelve years. Quietly she said to herself, "If I can only touch his cloak I shall be well again." Because of her faith, Jesus recognized her need and she was cured. 

If this woman was cured of her sickness by touching the cloak of Jesus, how much more can we expect a cure for our personal miseries when we come into personal contact with Christ? We not only touch Christ, we can even eat him. When we receive Jesus in communion, let us petition him for our material and spiritual needs with a strong faith. 

Word Today, July 9, 2002 (Tuesday of the 14th Week )

    Readings: Hos 8:4-7, 11-13/ Mt 9:32-38  

"And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd." The breadth of Jesus' heart is wide indeed. He is concerned for every single person in that crowd, just like the good shepherd, looking out for a single lost sheep. 

Every single person is loved by God in his or her uniqueness. Many spiritual writers say that Christ would have undergone all his sufferings, even to save a single person. As followers of Christ, the plight of any human being cannot be a matter of indifference. We must especially be concerned for those who are far away from God. They are not really "bad"; they are just lost or disoriented.  

Word Today, July 10, 2002 ( Wednesday of the 14th Week)

    Readings: Hos 10:1-3, 7-8, 12/ Mt 10:1-7  

The gospel reading today contains the enumeration of the twelve, especially chosen by Christ to be the pillars of the Church. Jesus handpicked these people. Yet among the twelve, is "Judas Iscariot, he who betrayed him." 

We should not be surprised that, even among those who serve God, there may be persons who will fail. We must ultimately find the explanation for this in the mystery of freedom and in God's ability to draw good, even from man's evil actions. But we should not focus on the one failure. Rather, we must focus on the eleven who, in spite of their personal failings, remained faithful to Christ. Through those who remained, the Church has spread and will continue to spread the saving gospel of Christ. 

Word Today, July 11, 2002 (Thursday of the 14th Week)

    Readings: Hos 11:1-4, 8c-9/ Mt 10:7-15  

The gospel of today's Mass narrates how Jesus urged the chosen Twelve to go forth and fulfill their apostolic task. This first assignment is a preparation for the final mission they would receive after the Resurrection, when Christ would tell them to "Go, preach the Gospel, making disciples of all nations." 

The Church continues this task of the Apostles. Her Divine Founder gave her the mission of spreading the Kingdom of Christ, making all men participate in the redemption. The mission of the Church transcends all social and ideological movements. At the same time, the Church, especially through the lay persons, must be involved in all human problems, trying to orient them towards their true end in God. 

Word Today, July 12, 2002 (Friday of the 14th Week)

    Readings: Hos 14:2-10/ Mt 10:16-23  

"See, I am sending you forth like sheep among wolves; so be prudent as serpents and innocent as doves." The follower of Christ must be careful not to be fooled by evil, not to be deceived by appearances, to distinguish the true from the false. At the same time, he must be simple, well-meaning, upright in his intentions. Otherwise, prudence will be nothing else but cunning.  

The Pope once said (Address, Oct. 25, 1978): "The prudent person is not, as it is often thought, the one who knows how to set himself up in life in order to get the most out of it, but the one who is able to build up his life according to the voice of a correct conscience and the demands of morals. In this way, prudence is the key to carry out man's basic mission from God -- the perfection of man himself." 

Word Today, July 13, 2002 (Saturday of the 14th Week)

    Readings: Is 6:1-8/ Mt 10:24-33

In today's gospel, Christ talks about the devil, who is known by the name of Beelzebub. Elsewhere, Christ refers to the devil as the father of all lies. Today, he also speaks about the need to love the truth since "everything that is now hidden will be made clear." We should speak out the truth. "What you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops. 

In a world in which lying and deceit are the habitual ways of acting of many persons, Christians ought to be persons who love the truth. Christians should be known as men and women who never lie, who reject any deceit and hypocrisy in their lives. If we act that way, we shall be effective apostles who can win the trust and confidence of our fellowmen.  


    Readings: Is 55:10-11/ Rom 8:18-23/ Mt 13:1-23 or 13:1-9  

The parable of the sower talks about four ways that the word of God can be received by people. Let us focus today on the second one -- on the seeds that fell upon shallow ground. It sprouted at once but since it did not have enough soil, the plant was easily scorched by the hot sun. 

This soil represents shallow people, with little interior conviction, incapable of enduring and persevering. They may have good desires, they may even receive God's grace gladly. But when the time comes to face difficulties, they surrender. They are not capable of sacrificing themselves for the ideal they have embraced. They die fruitless.  

How can we avoid superficiality? Among other things, we should be more reflective and less sentimental in our religious life. We must know that our feelings, good as they are, are often subject to mood swings. We should go beyond these moods and live out of a strong faith. 

Word Today, July 15, 2002 (Monday of the 15th Week)

    Readings: Is 1:10-17/ Mt 10:34--11:1  

To follow a calling from God, we should be ready to put God's plan over and above all other considerations. "Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me." Good Christian parents should be happy and honored if God calls a son or daughter to the service of the Church. Unfortunately, there are some people who see this as a misfortune. 

What a sad decision if someone were to ignore God's call in order not to displease the parents. It is even sadder to think of parents who actually prevent their children from serving God. Allowing their sentimentality to prevail, they may not realize that they are actually doing harm to their children by preventing them from following their mission in life. 

Word Today, July 16, 2002 (Tuesday of the 15th Week )

    Readings: Is 7:1-9/ Mt 11:20-24 

"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida!...And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as the heaven?" So many graces and so many miracles were done in those cities yet many of their inhabitants did not change, they did not repent of their sins. In contrast to Jesus' hard words, the Psalm says "Lord, you will not despise a humble and contrite heart." 

To be contrite. The word contrition etymologically refers to a kind of "breaking down", like a rock that disintegrates. Contrition means the sorrow for our faults and sins, comparing the sinner's heart to hardened stone. But contrition does not make a man miserable. Quite the contrary. Contrition gives a person special strength, it restores hope, peace and joy. 

Word Today, July 17, 2002 (Wednesday of the 15th Week)

    Readings: Is 10:5-7, 13-16/ Mt 11:25-27 

"You hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to little ones." The devil's sin was a sin of pride. He had a very elevated nature, but he did not use his intelligence to glorify God. Hence the devil could not understand the things of God. 

On the other hand, Christ defeated the devil through an act of humility and obedience. By imitating Christ, we can understand the deep realities of God's love and plan for us. The devil tries to thwart this, but he will never succeed with a humble soul.  

Word Today, July 18, 2002 (Thursday of the 15th Week)

    Readings: Is 26:7-9, 12, 16-19/ Mt 11:28-30  

"Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." What a wonderful piece of advice, especially suited to the conditions of contemporary life, where we go about rushing here and there, not finding peace of mind. 

We have here three elements that will contribute to "rest for your soul." To shoulder Christ's yoke. This means to accept the will of God, especially in our duties and in the other burdens that God may want to lay upon our shoulders. The next element is to be gentle or meek. This means that we should not give in to our tendency to be angry or irritated. We must think kind thoughts. Finally, at the very heart of all these is humility. Like Jesus, we must not cling to our prerogatives and presumed privileges. Rather, we must be ready to empty ourselves, to lower ourselves, for the sake of others. 

Word Today, July 19, 2002 ( Friday of the 15th Week)

    Readings: Is 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8/ Mt 12:1-8  

"The Son of Man is master of the sabbath." In the early Christian community, the practice of celebrating the Lord's Day (Sunday), gradually replaced the celebration of the Sabbath (Saturday). Saturday was the Jewish day of worship. When non-Jews became Christians, it did not make sense for them to observe Jewish ritual laws. Hence, Sunday became the day of worship for Christians. The apostles, with the authority of Christ, could modify the ritual aspect of the Third Commandment. 

Nowadays, there is a great need to revive our sense of Sunday worship. Life is much more complex now than in ages past. Within that complexity, we must arrange our Sunday lifestyle so as to give priority to the worship of God and the appropriate rest to be able to serve God through our duties, during the rest of the week. 

Word Today, July 20, 2002 (Saturday of the 15th Week)

    Readings: Mi 2:1-5/ Mt 12:14-21  

The gospel today applies the words of Isaiah the prophet to Jesus: "He will not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick." This was applied to Christ in the context of his compassion for the suffering. Jesus helped people and did good in spite of opposition from the Pharisees who accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath rest when performing the miraculous cures.  

We can learn from here that the most important law of all his charity. There is an adage in the Church which says that the supreme law is the salvation of souls. Laws, rules, norms and regulations are made for the good of people. We should follow them. Exceptionally, because laws made by men are imperfect, the good of people may mean doing something else. Then we have to make sure we have an upright and honest conscience, ask for enlightenment, and do what we think to be the mind of the legislator, for the good of persons. 


    Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19/ Rom 8:26-27/ Mt 13:24-43 or 13:24-30  

The parable in today's gospel reading is about the wheat and the weeds. In other translations, the weeds are called "darnel" or "cockle". These are not just ordinary weeds, but poisonous weeds that are very similar to wheat. 

Jesus applies this parable to the co-existence of good and evil men in the world until the day of judgment. We should not be surprised to find evil persons flourishing in the world. The parable states that the weeds were sown "While everybody was asleep." It is not enough to try to be good. We have the responsibility of not "falling asleep." Christians have to be alert, in the different places where they work, so that evil is not sown because of their omissions. 

Word Today, July 22, 2002 (Monday of the 16th Week, Saint Mary Magdalene )

    Readings: Mi 6:1-4, 6-8 (395)/ Jn 20:1-2, 11-18 

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. She has come down to history as the epitome of the penitent person. We do not know for sure if she was the woman who showed her repentance by anointing and then washing Jesus' feet. But we know, as the reading today says, that she was among the first to see the risen Christ. She was also at the foot of the cross, together with the Virgin Mary and St. John, at the moment of Jesus' death. 

We should never be ashamed to be sorry or contrite. Out of pride, some people get sad if they have to say "I am sorry." But in fact we should rejoice. To recognize our fault means that we are now on the right track, that we are better off than we were before. 

Word Today, July 23, 2002 (Tuesday of the 16th Week )

    Readings: Mic 7:14-15, 18-20/ Mt 12:46-50  

"Whoever does the will of my father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother." We should not understand this phrase as a repudiation of Mary on the part of Jesus. If there is anyone who did the will of God the Father most perfectly, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Augustin said that Mary is more a mother of Christ because she fulfilled God's will perfectly, than because of her physical motherhood. 

What this gospel emphasizes is that we too, each one of us, can be very close to Jesus if we strive to do God's will. To seek the will of God is the first condition to be a child of God. 

Word Today, July 24, 2002 (Wednesday of the 16th Week)

    Readings: Jer 1:1, 4-10/ Mt 13:1-9  

In the parable of the sower, Christ classifies the different ways that men can receive the word of God. Let us focus on only one of them -- those who receive the word of God gladly but because they are shallow, the word of God cannot take deep root. The new plant eventually withers away without bearing fruit. 

To become "deep soil", we must be less impressionable, sentimental and moody. We must develop deep convictions. This comes from serious reflection on the gospel with the desire to implement its meaning into our life. Our reason must be enlightened by our faith so that there is a perfect harmony between our faith and our way of thinking. 

Word Today, July 25, 2002 (Saint James, apostle)

    Readings: 2 Cor 4:7-15/ Mt 20:20-28  

St. James was the brother of St. John. He is the patron saint of Spain. And because of the Philippines' historical ties with that country, there is a great devotion to him here as well. 

He is sometimes called St. James the Greater (in Spanish, Santiago El Mayor) in order to distinguish him from the other apostle with the same name, who is referred to as "the Lesser" (El Menor). There is an ancient tradition that links him with the evangelization of Spain, together with an encouragement from the Virgin Mary who appeared to him on top of a pillar in the city of Zaragoza. We should be grateful to this apostle for his perseverance in the evangelization of Spain. If not for him, we may not be enjoying the Catholic faith. 

Word Today, July 26, 2002 (Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

    Readings: Jer 3:14-17/ Mt 13:18-23  

There is no mention in Sacred Scripture of the names of the Blessed Virgin Mary's parents. But in the light of her Immaculate Conception and how God provides adequately for his plan of Redemption, it seems very fitting indeed to honor the parents of the Mother of Christ. The names of Mary's parents come from extra-biblical sources. In Jerusalem, there has long been a church that is named after St. Anne. 

Today's feast is a good occasion to remind parents of their very important role in the development of each person and especially in developing a Christian life. No one can replace the parents in their task. Many of us learned our first prayers and eventually how to relate to God through the words and example of our parents. Parents should see the children God sends them as signs of God's confidence in them. 

Word Today, July 27, 2002 (Saturday of the 16th Week)

Readings: Jer 7:1-11/ Mt 13:24-30  

Today's gospel reading is about the parable of the wheat and the cockle. The co-existence of the wheat and the weeds can refer not only to the co-existence of good and evil persons. It can apply also to the existence in each one of us of good and evil tendencies. 

No person is completely evil, just as no person is completely good. We all have good and evil inside. So when we see others, let us not judge them by "straightjacketing" or "pigeonholing" them as good or bad. Let us always try to recognize the good in others as we try to eradicate the evil within ourselves.  


    Readings: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12/ Rom 8:28-30/ Mt 13:44-52 or 13:44-46 

Christ compares the kingdom of heaven to a hidden treasure, for which it is worthwhile to sell all that we have in order to possess it. In comparison to what consumerism and materialism have to offer us, the value of the kingdom of heaven is indeed hidden. Consumerism cries out to us through advertisements. No one proclaims the value of the kingdom of heaven. 

We can discover the hidden value of the kingdom of heaven through the eyes of faith. But those eyes will never be opened unless we pray. Through prayer, we can recognize what is really valuable and thus avoid the deception of consumerism. 

Word Today, July 30, 2002 (Saint Martha)

    Readings: Jer 13:1-11 (401)/ Jn 11:19-27* or Lk 10:38-42*  

St. Martha was the sister of Mary, both of them from the town of Bethany. Jesus Christ had a special love for the two sisters and their brother Lazarus. In the midst of His tiring ministrations, Jesus would go to the household of Bethany to rest. Martha is known to us for meriting that gentle reproach of Christ: "Martha, Martha, you fret over so many things. But only one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the best part." 

Jesus did not reproach her for her hospitality or for her sense of responsibility. He did not tell here not to do what she was doing. But he wanted her not to fret or worry over those things.  

When we find ourselves fretting, let us get a hold of ourselves. A good way of doing that is to apply Christ's words to ourselves, and at that moment, pause, listen to Jesus in prayer, and then get back to what we are doing with more peace and serenity. 

Word Today, July 31, 2002 (Wednesday of the 17th Week)

    Readings: Jer 15:10, 16-21/ Mt 13:44-46  

The gospel today compares the kingdom of heaven to a hidden treasure or to a pearl of great price. We can apply this comparison not only to the faith which we received but also to another gift that a person can receive -- the calling from God. 

We should see a divine calling, such as a vocation to the priesthood or some other form recognized in the Church, as something of value. It a great gift of God. It is like winning in the lotto. If you win, you protect your winning stub. So with the calling. We should protect it. We should not rashly expose it to being lost or destroyed. Those who receive a calling from God should strive to be faithful to all the requirements of their state in life. 

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