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JUNE 2002

Word Today,
June 1, 2002 (Saturday of the 8th Week, St. Justin Martyr)

    Readings: Jude 17:20b-25/ Mk 11:27-33  

Today's responsorial psalm is from Ps 62 and it says, "My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God." Man, by nature, is a God-seeker. Our innermost being seeks the Supreme Being who will fill all our longings for truth, goodness and beauty. St. Augustin pointed out that, since God made us for himself, our hearts will be restless until they rest in God. 

We can translate these considerations to our daily life. We do not have to go to an isolated place in order to quench our thirst for God, although it is a good practice to seek occasional solitude. We must try out the practice of living in the presence of God. As we go about our daily activities, we can periodically lift our hearts and minds to God in acts of faith, hope and love. These acts are sometimes called "ejaculations" (coming from the Latin jacula meaning dart) or aspirations. Try it. Be like the deer that goes to the clear water every so often in order to quench its thirst.  


    Readings: Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a/ 1 Cor 10:16-17/ Jn 6:51-58  

Today the Church wants to honor the Holy Eucharist in a special way. After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the people followed Jesus Christ to the synagogue at Capernaum. There he told his listeners about the Eucharist. He told them that his flesh was indeed food and his blood, drink. This scandalized most of his listeners. Yet Christ did not back out from that statement. Later on, at the last supper, it would be made clear that the bread would be transformed into his body and the wine into his blood, at the words of the consecration. 

This is the reason why we must firmly believe in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. He is truly present, not just in a symbolic way. He is present really and substantially, but under the appearance of bread and wine. This is a great mystery of our faith. But we must believe whatever Christ has revealed. It seems difficult, but it is not impossible. For, in the words of the hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas, "What the truth (Christ) has spoken, that for truth we hold."  

Word Today, June 3, 2002 (Monday 9th Week in Ordinary Time)

Readings: 2 Pt 1:2-7/ Mk 12:1-12  

In the first reading, St. Peter tells us that we "will be able to share the divine nature." The Eucharistic liturgy echoes these words of St. Peter when, while adding a bit of water (representing us) to the wine (representing Christ) to be offered up, the priest says, "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity." 

That we can share the divine nature sounds like a bold assertion. Yes we can, but not in the way that the devil was tempted to usurp God's divinity. We can, because of the love and mercy of God, through faith in Christ. St. Peter's letter enumerates a series of steps in our divine transformation, starting from faith, passing through different moral virtues, and ending with love. This is a program of Christian life: the goal is transformation, the way is through faith, love and spiritual struggle.  

Word Today, June 4, 2002 (Tuesday of the 9th Week)

    Readings: 2 Pt 3:12-15a, 17-18/ Mk 12:13-17 

The answer of Jesus to the "trick" question of whether or not to pay the Roman taxes serves as a springboard for understanding the so-called "legitimate autonomy of temporal affairs." By saying "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's," Jesus recognized that there is a realm of activities that must be considered independent of direct religious intervention. Of course, everything is subject to God. But God has also wanted that there be areas of concern where man must use his God-given talents to address the different issues. 

Everything has a religious and moral dimension. But in many fields, the "technical solutions" have been left to man's ingenuity. Religious authorities must recognize and respect these fields where lay persons can exercise their expertise. 

Word Today, June 5, 2002 (Wednesday of the 9th Week)

Readings: 2 Tm 1:1-3, 6-12/ Mk 12:18-27 

"When they rise from the dead, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven." This is what Jesus said in order to clarify the application of the Jewish law that required a man to marry his brother's widow in order to raise descendants for the deceased brother. 

The religious state or the consecrated life, among other things, is meant to be a sign to the world that there is a world after this life, and that new life is what really matters. Hence, it is very fitting that consecrated persons, such as nuns and monks, practice apostolic celibacy. The same can be said about priesthood. Priests, because of the sacrament of Holy Orders, are constituted as sacred persons. Hence celibacy is very fitting for the priest who is, after all, a witness to all that what matters most is our eternal salvation.  

Word Today, June 6, 2002 (Thursday of the 9th Week)

Readings 2 Tm 2:8-15/ Mk 12:28b-34  

"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, and with your whole strength." This commandment was already stated in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ confirmed the primacy of this radical commitment to God. 

We must learn to put God always in the first place. We cannot truly love God if we prefer any other thing, noble as it might be, above God. By renouncing all things and committing ourselves to God, even those very same things we renounce acquire their proper place and we end up appreciating them better. 

Word Today, June 7, 2002 (Most Sacred Heart of Jesus solemnity)

    Readings: Dt 7:6-11/ 1 Jn 4:7-16/ Mt 11:25-30  

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!" 

Word Today, June 8, 2002 (Immaculate Heart of Mary )

    Readings: 2 Tm 4:1-8 (358)/ Lk 2:41-51*  

The feast of today comes right after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mary is so intimately associated with Jesus that as soon as we come to consider Christ's redemptive love for us, we immediately think of Mary's role in leading us to Jesus. 

The Holy Father has already beatified two of the visionaries of Fatima, Jacinta and Francisco. The apparitions and the message of Fatima have received the complete approval of the Church. Part of the message of Mary was her desire to spread the devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Mary loves us as a mother, and that is saying a lot. She became our spiritual mother when she accepted this role from Jesus himself as he was dying on the cross. Today's feast helps us to turn to Mary with great confidence. We can be absolutely sure of her help if we turn to her intercession.   

Word Today, June 9, 2002 ( TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME)

    Readings: Hos 6:3-6/ Rom 4:18-25/ Mt 9:9-13  

The Gospel today is about the call of the apostle and evangelist St. Matthew. Matthew was, by profession, a tax collector. He was not well-liked by many people because he was an official of the conquering Romans. Most probably, because of his job, people thought he was dishonest. Yet Christ called him. Christ saw the goodness of his heart and saw the seed of the vocation. 

Later on, Matthew would use his "talent" of recording in order to draw up a record of what Jesus did and said. Let us utilize our talents for the service of God. And, let us not be surprised that Jesus can call us into his service even as we are immersed in a very absorbing task.  

Word Today, June 10, 2002 (Monday 10th Week in Ordinary Time)

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

In the light of Jesus' call for perfection, the gospel reading can be considered especially meaningful because it is the account of the eight beatitudes. 

The eight beatitudes can be considered like a blueprint of authentic Christian life. It shows 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 them and evaluate ourselves honestly if we are at least trying to live by the standards set in them. 

Word Today, June 11, 2002 (Saint Barnabas, apostle )

    Readings: Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3* / Mt 5:13-16  

St. Barnabas was chosen by God to be an apostle together with St. Paul. The two together started to preach the gospel to the gentiles or non-Jews. They had a fruitful partnership but they eventually went on different ways over a disagreement about the young St. Mark. Mark had joined Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey. But Mark later abandoned them because he found the task too difficult. On the second missionary journey Mark wanted to come along again. But Paul did not want to take him because he had failed them the first time.  

Yet Barnabas gave him a second chance. Barnabas was not mistaken in giving Mark a second chance. Here we see that even saints may disagree. But such disagreement is not a matter for lacking in love and understanding. In fact St. Paul would, many years later, indirectly acknowledge Barnabas' wise decision, when Paul himself would seek the assistance of the more mature and experienced Mark.  

Word Today, June 12, 2002 (Wednesday of the 10th Week)

    Readings: 1 Kgs 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 "nataural 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 be just in respecting the property of others. But Christ requires more than justice. We must practice generosity with others and detachment from our own goods for the needs of others.  

Word Today, June 13, 2002 ( Thursday of the 10th Week)

    Readings 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, because God loves each one and goes out of his way to seek out the lost sheep. 

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 14, 2002 (Friday of the 10th Week)

    Readings: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 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 executed. The struggle to be good must be waged in our thoughts by not consenting to the suggestions that may come from the devil or our own sensuality. 

We should bring the effort to be pure even one step ahead. Many impure thoughts are initiated by images and other sensory inputs. Hence we should guard what we see and hear. That is why we should avoid forms of entertainment that capitalize on impurity.  

Word Today, June 15, 2002 (Saturday of the 10th Week)

    Readings: 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. 


    Readings: Ex 19:2-6a/ Rom 5:6-11/ Mt 9:36--10:8  

"The harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few." So well did Jesus describe the situation of the apostolate. We continue to have a very large harvest. There are still so many persons all over the world who have not really heard the gospel of Christ. Committed persons are needed. 

The solution is also given by Christ. "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest." This is the ultimate solution because the vocation is a grace of God. Aside from that, we must apply the human means to have the adequate preparation for the future workers in the vineyard. For if we do not give the laborers the adequate formation and preparation, then God will not be inclined to grant us vocations.  

Word Today, June 17, 2002 (Monday 11th Week in Ordinary Time)

    Readings: 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 18, 2002 ( Tuesday of the 11th Week )

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

"You must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect." That is how Jesus concludes this section of the sermon on the mount. This phrase is a call to the fullness of the Christian life, for everyone. "You have the obligation to sanctify yourself...Who thinks this is the exclusive concern of priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said, 'Be perfect..." (The Way, 291) 

The Second Vatican Council proclaimed the universal call to holiness. Previous to that, some people had the attitude (which may still be lingering today) that priests and religious had the obligation to be holy, while the ordinary Christian could remain mediocre. He did not have to be a saint. He did not have to strive for perfection. No. All have to strive for sanctity, but in different ways, according to each one's state in life.  

Word Today, June 19, 2002 (Wednesday of the 11th Week)

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

The gospel today is a dire warning against the vice of hypocrisy. Christ warns us not to do good things for the twisted intention of being praised for it. We should not be "publicity hounds", looking for opportunities to be seen and admired. Above all, we should not use the things of God for our personal ambitions. 

On the positive side, the words of Christ are an exhortation to rectitude of intention, to ensure that what we intend corresponds to the reality of our actions. If we give alms, it should be with the genuine desire to help the poor. If we pray, it should be in order to communicate with God. Even better, whether we want to relieve suffering or want to communicate with the Lord, we should try to do all for the greater glory of God

Word Today, June 20, 2002 (Thursday of the 11th Week)

    Readings Sir 48:1-14/ Mt 6:7-15  

At the end of the Lord's prayer, Christ elaborates more on one of its points, thus showing us its importance. "For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses." 

Forgiving those who have offended us is one of the easiest things to say, but it is the hardest thing to do. Perhaps part of the reason is that the offenses we receive are so concrete and specific, they remain etched in our memory; while the counsel to forgive is general and abstract. That is why, one way of helping us to forgive is to think vividly of Christ's sufferings on the cross. He gave us this lesson of forgiveness not as an abstraction but as something he himself practiced as he was gasping for breath on the cross. Hence, a prayerful person can forgive more easily. 

Word Today, June 21, 2002 (Friday of the 11th Week)

    Readings: 2 Kgs 11:1-4, 9-18, 20/ 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 22, 2002 (Saturday of the 11th Week, Saints John Fisher, bishop and martyr, and Thomas More, martyr)

    Readings: 2 Chr 24:17-25/ Mt 6:24-34  

The gospel of the lilies of the field and the sparrows of the air fills one with consolation and peace. God is our father, he will take care of us better than we could ever take care of ourselves. Thus, while we have to do what is possible on our part because that is in God's plan, we should rest assured that God will take care of the outcome. 

We can differentiate between worry and concern. Worry is not good. It is self-defeating and does not come from God. Concern, on the other hand, is part of having a sense of responsibility, it is part of the commandment of charity. We must be rightly concerned for the things of God, for the needs of our neighbors, and even for our own needs. But such concern should not degenerate to worry and anxiety. If we keep these words of Christ ever present in our minds, we will avoid falling into anxiety. 


    Readings: Jer 20:10-13/ Rom 5:12-15/ Mt 10:26-33  

"Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear." We can apply this phrase to one of the truths of our faith -- the coming of the Lord at the end of the world with the so-called General Judgment. At the last judgment, for the greater glory of God, everything will be made known. 

But why do we have to wait for the end of the world to manifest the truth? If everything will be manifest in the end, why are we so eager to cover up our tracks now? If we resolve to be always sincere and truthful, we will have a very powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil, who is "the father of all lies."  

Word Today, June 24, 2002 (Nativity of Saint John the Baptist solemnity)

Readings: Vigil: Jer 1:4-10/ 1 Pt 1:8-12/ Lk 1:5-17; Day: Is 49:1-6/ Acts 13:22-26/ Lk 1:57-66, 80  

This is a unique celebration. The gospel reading is about how John the Baptist was "sanctified from the womb" by the presence of Christ, as communicated through the voice of Mary. This celebration is unique because ordinarily, in the Church, the natural birth of an ordinary person is not celebrated since we are all born in sin. The true "birthday" of a saint is the day of his death -- it is the day he has definitively conquered sin and entered a new life. The exception to this rule are Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, because they have no original sin. St. John the Baptist is also an exception because, although he had original sin, he was purified from the womb. Hence, though he was not conceived without sin, he was born without sin. 

We can learn from the life of John the Baptist. He is the "precursor" of Christ. This means that he prepared people to accept Christ. This is what he did, for example, with the young John who later became the beloved apostle. We should prepare people to accept Christ through a vigorous and energetic apostolic activity. 

Word Today, June 25, 2002 (Tuesday of the 12th Week )

    Readings: 2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36/ Mt 7:6, 12-14  

In today's gospel, Jesus advises us to "enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious." Indeed, there is a prevailing mentality of taking the easiest way out, the way of least resistance. As a consequence, many people cannot understand the important role that suffering and hardship has for a person's improvement. Yet even in matters of the body, they say, "No pain, no gain." 

Many parents want to spare their children every kind of hardship. They end up spoiling them. They grow up soft and weak, unable to face the difficulties that life always entails. 

Word Today, June 26, 2002 (Wednesday of the 12th Week)

    Readings: 2 Kgs 22:8-13; 23:1-3/ Mt 7:15-20  

Today we can celebrate the memory of Blessed Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei who died on June 26, 1975. The Pope beatified him in 1992. He will be canonized on October 6 of this year. 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 and will be canonized, 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, 2002 (Thursday of the 12th Week)

    Readings 2 Kgs 24:8-17/ Mt 7:21-29  

The last paragraphs of the account of the Sermon on the Mount point to the need to put all those nice considerations into practice. It is not enough to hear the Word of God, we must apply them to our life. Who shall enter the kingdom of heaven? "He who does the will of my father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven." 

This is a time-tested principle. We must discern the will of God and then do our best to fulfill it. How do we know it? Look for it first in your ordinary duties, because those duties come from God. Seek it next in the inspirations that you may receive to lead a better Christian life. Then, we can truly say that we love God, because we keep his commandments. 

Word Today, June 28, 2002 ( Friday of the 12th Week)

    Readings: 2 Kgs 25:1-12/ Mt 8:1-4

"Lord, if you want, you can make me clean," exclaimed the leper in today's gospel reading. Fortunately nowadays leprosy is no longer an incurable disease. Besides, there are many ways of avoiding contagion. But because it used to be incurable and highly contagious, in the mosaic laws, lepers were forbidden to be with other people. Because of these characteristics of the disease, the spiritual disease of the soul, which is sin, was sometimes compared to leprosy. Hence we can apply these words of the leper to each one's struggle to avoid sin. 

In our hearts, as we try to uproot that bad temper, that attachment to something bad, or as we try to overcome our selfishness and laziness, we can turn to Jesus with confidence, "If you want, you can help me overcome this defect. No matter how deeply rooted our vices, the grace of God can do wonders.  

Word Today, June 29, 2002 (Saints Peter and Paul, apostles)

    Readings: Vigil: Acts 3:1-10/ Gal 1:11-20/ Jn 21:15-19; Day: Acts 12:1-11/ 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18/ Mt 16:13-19 

The head of the college of apostles was Peter. The most energetic and zealous of the apostles because God made him the "apostle to the gentiles" was Paul. Both of them shed their blood for Christ in Rome. The greatest glory of Rome is the fact that whoever is the head of the Church of Rome is the successor of Peter and therefore is also head of the college of bishops and head of the universal Church. But besides that, Rome also has the legacy of St. Paul -- the burning zeal to evangelize and to take care of the whole Catholic world. 

Today, let us pray for the Pope. He has a heavy burden on his shoulders. In the spirit of St. Peter, the Pope has to defend the Church against the "gates of hell." In the spirit of St. Paul, he also has to promote the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. 


    Readings: 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a/ Rom 6:3-4, 8-11/ Mt 10:37-42  

Our sensibilities may at first feel offended when we read the very strong words of Jesus Christ in today's Gospel. "I have come to bring a sword, not peace. For I have come to set a man at variance with his father, and a daughter with her mother ... and a man's enemies will be those of his own household." (Mt 10-34-37) 

We should not think, however, that Christ's message is a message of violence or conflict, for it is the same person who tells us to love our enemies, to do good to those who may harm us. He is also the same one who says that we have to learn from him because of his humility and meekness of heart.  

What Jesus Christ stresses in this gospel is the need to struggle in order to live up to the demands of the Christian life, because God will not settle for playing second fiddle to any other thing, no matter how good that thing may be. The true place of God in our hearts and in our subsequent actions, is at the very top of all the priorities.  


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