Word Home | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002

MARCH 2002

Word Today,
March 1, 20021 (Friday of the 2nd Week of Lent)

    Readings: Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28/ Mt 21:33-43, 45-46  

The Opening Prayer of today's Eucharistic celebration is a summary of the Lenten season. "Merciful Father, may our acts of penance bring us your forgiveness, open our hearts to your love, and prepare us for the coming feast of the resurrection." 

Indeed, we should strive for conversion in order to have hearts open to God's love. Without a spirit of penance (Lent is a penitential season), we cannot be truly open to receive the graces of Easter.  

Word Today, March 2, 2002 (Saturday of the 2nd Week of Lent)

    Readings: Mi 7:14-15, 18-20/ Lk 15:1-3, 11-32  

The parable of the prodigal son is one of the most moving illustrations of the mercy of God. No matter how low we may fall, no matter how far away from God we may be, God will never give up on us. He is always ready to receive us. 

But for God to receive us, just like the prodigal son, we must acknowledge our sins and errors. Only then can we have the eyes to see how good God is. Pride, the refusal to acknowledge our sins, prevents us from availing of God's mercy.  

Word Today, March 3, 2002 ( THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT)

    Readings: Ex 17:3-7/ Rom 5:1-2, 5-8/ Jn 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42  

The gospel of today's Mass depicts the conversation that took place between Jesus and the Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob at the town of Sichar. An apostle of Christ should help open out new horizons for the people around him. At times, the apostle has to confront people with their moral shortcomings. Jesus Christ did this in the case of the Samaritan woman. But note that He did it with great refinement. He did not insult her. He did not humiliate her in public. Instead, the conversation led naturally to the topic, until He ended up confronting her.  

If we have to confront people with their moral shortcomings, we should do so with the same balm of tenderness and affection, so that our friends will not feel humiliated or slighted by the rebuke. Instead, they should be grateful for our loyalty in having pointed out that matter, which in the long run, will help them to improve their lives.  

Word Today, March 4, 2002 (Monday of the 3rd Week of Lent)

    Readings: 2 Kgs 5:1-15a/ Lk 4:24-30  

The prophet Elisha cured the leprosy of Naaman, the important Syrian official, by asking him to bathe in the Jordan river. The prophet did not even go out to meet Naaman, he just sent word about what he should do. At first, Naaman was indignant because he expected the prophet to do something more spectacular. But common sense held final sway. Why should he not bathe in the Jordan? After all, if the prophet had asked him to do something very difficult, he would have done it.  

All of us have the tendency to go for the spectacular things. So when something is quiet and hidden, we tend not to give it any importance. Yet the truth of the matter is that many great things happen in our ordinary humdrum existence. The great victories were won not in the battlefield but in the daily grind of the training grounds. Let us realize the value of our ordinary efforts. 

Word Today, Mar 5., 2002 (Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent)

    Readings: Dn 3:25, 34-43/ Mt 18:21-35  

Peter thought he was being magnanimous when he proposed the number of fulness (seven) as the number of times we had to forgive an offending person. But Jesus wanted to emphasize the need for forgiveness by giving Peter an exaggerated figure. "Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times." It is a good thing that Jesus said this, so that there would be no room for doubt in our minds about the Christian demand of forgiveness. 

For many people, forgiving is one of the most difficult things to do. It is easy to say, it is easy to talk about, but once we are faced with a truly unjust situation, we can experience how difficult it can really get. That is the time to remember that we must forgive as God wants us to forgive, and as he has forgiven us. We should remember that any offence we may suffer from someone is infinitesimal when compared to the offences we have committed against God. We should remember the words of the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." 

Word Today, Mar. 6, 2002 (Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent)

    Readings: Dt 4:1, 5-9/ Mt 5:17-19

Jesus said, "Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them." That is how we should view the apparent "changes" in our religious beliefs. New developments do not discard what existed before. They build upon them and complete them. 

The Pope has emphasized this continuity, especially in the light of the important changes ushered in by the Second Vatican Council held more than thirty years ago. Those who see a break between the previous teaching of the Church and that of the Second Vatican Council end up either as "integrists" (like the group of Lefebvre, known as the Society of St. Pius X), rejecting the new as a betrayal of the old; or as "modernists", rejecting the old as irrelevant and mistaken. The Church has introduced many new things, but these new things are in continuity with the old. We must accept both old and new, in the spirit that the Church has proposed them. 

Word Today, Mar. 7 2002 (Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent)

    Readings : Jer 7:23-28/ Lk 11:14-23  

"Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses." We can apply these words of Jesus to the need for unity within the Church. The Church is united in "one head, one faith, and one baptism." The guarantee of unity in the Church is the primacy of the Pope (the head), who safeguards the universal faith of the Church and watches over the channels of grace.  

One way the Pope exercises his ministry of unity is by promoting the ecumenical movement. He promotes dialogue and common activities with other Christian communities so that we can gradually thresh out differences that have arisen from historical events. We can help out in this movement by living an authentic Christian life that can serve as a witnessing for other Christians. 

Word Today, March 8, 20021 (Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent)

    Readings: Hos 14:2-10/ Mk 12:28b-34   

Here is the summary of all the commandments, the one standard by which we can all strive to live. "Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself." Based on this, St. Augustin could say, "Love, and do whatever you want." 

This is easier said than done. Love is not just a vague feeling of attraction or benevolence. The test of love is to do the will of the beloved. Hence, the commandment of love can be transposed -- seek to do God's will wholeheartedly. Do not seek it half-heartedly, or hesitatingly, but seek it with all that you have. 

Word Today, March 9, 2002 (Saturday of the 3rd Week of Lent)

    Readings: Hos 6:1-6/ Lk 18:9-14   

What a contrast! Jesus Christ shows us the figure of the self-satisfied and smug Pharisee. He can find no fault in himself. He only sees what he thinks as "virtues". But they are not really virtues. They are just external observances lacking in virtue because they do not refer to a good state of soul. On the other hand we have the figure of the Publican. He is aware of his sinfulness, and can only ask for God's mercy. It was the Publican that "went home again at rights with God." 

We cannot address ourselves to God with self-complacency. God is truth, and so we cannot face God with the bold-faced lie that we are "good". Rather, we must face our human condition, our shortcomings and miseries. Then we can, with humility, look at God and relate to him as the prodigal son in the parable.  

Word Today, March 10, 2002 (FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT)

    Readings: 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a/ Eph 5:8-14/ Jn 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38  

The gospel reading of today is a long narrative about a man born blind who was miraculously cured by Jesus Christ. The narration is long because the gospel not only tells us about the miracle but also about its sequel. Now by himself, the blind man met Jesus once again. Jesus asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of man?" (Jn 9:35) The man who was born blind answered, "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" And when Jesus identified himself, the blind man made the act of faith, "Lord I believe." 

From this gospel, we can learn an important lesson: intellectual honesty. The man who was born blind was an intellectually honest man. He did not bend to the pressures of the pharisees, but told them the truth just as he knew it. Later on, with all sincerity, he would express to Jesus his desire to know more about the promised Redeemer. With that, Jesus gave him the final revelation--that Jesus himself was the Messiah.  

Word Today, Mar. 11, 2002 (Monday of the 4th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Is 65:17-21/ Jn 4:43-54  

"There is no respect for a prophet in his own country." That was the reason why many of the town-mates of Jesus could not accept him. Don't we find something similar happening in the lives of many Christians? 

When a person decides to take the faith seriously, that person will often have to deal with ridicule and disbelief from people he/she is close to. Co-employees, members of the family, close friends, may all wonder, "What has gotten into you?" That person should not be discouraged. The initial skepticism can be overcome by perseverance. Consistency of life is the most eloquent form of apologetics. 

Word Today, Mar 12., 2002 (Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Ez 47:1-9, 12/ Jn 5:1-16  

Today's gospel is about the curing of a lame person at the pool of Bethsaida. The man's situation was that he could not avail of the miraculous waters of the pool because, when he had the chance to get in to be cured, other people would go ahead of him. Being lame, he could not move by himself, and besides, "I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred."  

How many people there are who could give the same excuse to God when they face the last judgment! They could not avail of the curing grace available in the Church's sacraments because there was no one to help them. We cannot stand by passively while we see relatives and friends far from God. Some of them may need just a little bit of encouragement so that they go to the sacrament of reconciliation. We have a responsibility to help those around us in their physical and spiritual needs.  

Word Today, Mar. 13, 2002 (Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Is 49:8-15/ Jn 5:17-30  

"Amen, amen I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but only what he sees the father doing ...Of myself I can do nothing." These words of Jesus Christ manifest his absolute unity with God the Father, the perfect fulfillment of the will of God.  

We too, seeking to be close to God, should strive to do everything with God's help. We should recognize that without God's help, we would end up bungling everything. When things turn out well, we should readily recognize that whatever good we may have achieved comes from God. When things turn out badly, we must recognize our fault, perhaps for not corresponding enough to the help that God is providing us.  

Word Today, Mar. 14, 2002 (Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent)

    Readings : Ex 32:7-14/ Jn 5:31-47  

"The works that I do bear witness to me, that the Father has sent me." The apostles were especially chosen witnesses, to testify on the life, death and resurrection of Christ. All Christians are called to be witnesses to their belief in Christ. The sacrament of confirmation constitutes the follower of Christ to be a witness.  

The best way of witnessing is through a consistent life. If we truly live as children of God, then we will practice the first commandment, the commandment of charity. And we will be filled with joy. Charity and joy are two of the most convincing "arguments" in favor of the faith.  

Word Today, March 15, 20021 (Friday of the 4th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Wis 2:1a, 12-22/ Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30  

The gospel readings of the past few days depict the growing rift between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews. In today's reading, this reaches the point where "they wanted to seize him, but no one laid hands on him because his hour had not yet come."  

Martyrs, those who witness to the Faith through the shedding of their blood, have always been venerated in the Church. In the Philippines, the first Filipino saint and the next one who may follow, were both martyrs. Every person who wants to follow Jesus must be ready to face difficulties and even to face martyrdom. If ever it comes, we know that it is all in the plan of God.  

Word Today, March 16, 2002 (Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Jer 11:18-20/ Jn 7:40-53  

In today's gospel we find the daring defense that Nicodemus makes in favor of Jesus. That defense earned Nicodemus the antagonism of his companions in the Sanhedrin. His colleagues even criticized him personally, "Are you also a Galilean?"  

We first saw Nicodemus going to Christ secretly for fear of the other Jews. Now he is ready to stick out his own neck for Christ. Later on he would even be bolder. In Jn 19: 39, he would help anoint the body of the apparently defeated Christ. To be a witness to Christ, we should not be afraid or ashamed to speak out on his behalf. We should not be ashamed to show our faith to our colleagues and friends, even if it may bring us unfair criticism.  

Word Today, March 17, 2002 ( FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT)

    Readings: Ez 37:12-14/ Rom 8:8-11/ Jn 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45  

The Gospel of this Sunday depicts the resurrection from the dead of Lazarus, who was a close friend of Jesus Christ. We can almost say that they were family friends, because all the members of that household of Bethany were intimates of Christ. When Jesus had gone to the tomb of Lazarus (who had been dead for four days), he looked at the cadaver of his friend and he began to weep. Seeing this reaction of Jesus, the people around began to say, "See how he loved him!" (Jn. 11, 37). 

To be Christians, we should try to develop a deep friendship with Christ. Such a friendship is accessible to all of us, because we see that Jesus has a heart that is capable of deep affection. And what wonderful horizons can open in our Christian life if we cultivate this friendship with Christ. There are a number of conditions for any friendship to develop. Christ himself lays down one of them. "You are my friend if you do the things I command you" (Jn 15, 14). So we cannot truly lay claim to the friendship of Christ if our life is inconsistent with his will, with his teachings.  

Besides, to develop a friendship, we have to deal with the other person. So, we have to learn to deal with Christ, and we can do this by talking to him (prayer) and having actual contact with him (the Eucharist). It is worthwhile cultivating the friendship with Jesus to have a share of that heart that could weep for a friend.  

Word Today, Mar. 18, 2002 (Monday of the 5th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or 13:41c-62/ Jn 8:1-11  

Today the gospel is about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and who was brought before Christ in order to test him. It was a test of Christ's message of mercy. Would mercy override the Law of Moses? If he openly did so, they would accuse him of violating the law.  

Mercy prevailed, but without compromising Christ's position. He made them realize that we are all in need of mercy because we are all sinners. But in giving mercy, Jesus did not condone permissiveness. He told the woman that he would not condemn her, but nevertheless, "from now on, sin no more." We should turn to the mercy of God, but we should not abuse it. We must fight sincerely against our sinfulness.  

Word Today, Mar 19., 2002 ( Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary solemnity )

    Readings: 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16/ Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22/ Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Lk 2:41-51a  

Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph. Over the years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of the figure of St. Joseph. Just like Mary, who is the Queen of All Saints, Joseph's role in our redemption was a quiet but very crucial one. Hence it is not surprising that he has been declared the "Patron of the Universal Church", not just a section or aspect of it, but of the whole People of God. 

By focusing on St. Joseph, the Church is teaching us where true greatness and holiness lie. He was a "just man", a holy man who quietly but heroically fulfilled the tasks God gave him. He showed us the great value of doing our daily work and responding readily to the plans of God even if they do not coincide with our own. 

Word Today, Mar. 20, 2002 (Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95/ Jn 8:31-42  

Jesus said, "The truth shall make you free." Many people associate freedom with the mere absence of external constraints. But while that may be an important condition for freedom, the core of freedom does not lie in an absence or a negation. Freedom is an affirmation. It is an affirmation of our ability to make choices, to decide, to determine ourselves.  

If freedom is the ability to choose, then true knowledge is something that liberates. And the opposite of truth, error or ignorance, is what really oppresses man. The more we search for truth and embrace it, the more free we become. But if we allow ourselves to be moved by our whims and passions instead of true principles, we will find ourselves enslaved by those very whims.   

Word Today, Mar. 21, 2002 (Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent)

    Readings : Gn 17:3-9/ Jn 8:51-59   

The gospel today contains one of the clearest assertions of the divine nature of Jesus Christ. "Before Abraham came to be, I am." Jesus was obviously referring to the proper name of God, unmentionable to the pious Hebrew, "Yahweh" or "I am who am," the name by which God identified himself to Moses at the burning bush.  

We cannot reduce Christ to a popular political figure, a great teacher of life or a philosopher. The most important reality about this man whom the gospels talk about is that he is the true Son of God, God himself. A Christian believes not only in the wisdom of Christ's teachings, he believes in the person of Christ himself. He believes him to be God, otherwise he is not a Christian. That is why, with all due respect for their opinion, the Philippine sect called "Iglesia ni Cristo" that follows the Arian teaching that Jesus is only a very special man, cannot really be considered "Christian."   

Word Today, March 22, 20021 (Friday of the 5th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Jer 20:10-13/ Jn 10:31-42  

The gospel of today shows us that to be the true "Son of God" is the same as to be God. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which is recited at the Eucharistic Celebration, contains the formula that Jesus Christ is "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father." That repetition of like coming from like refers to the unity of nature between God the Father and God the Son. To be the true son is to be of the same nature as the progenitor.  

Jesus then is the "only-begotten" Son of God. But, as John says in his gospel, we also have the power of becoming sons of God. We can become so not by nature, but by grace, by a kind of adoption by virtue of our union with Jesus Christ. Our "divine sonship" is the foundation of our Christian life.   

Word Today, March 23, 2002 (Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent)

    Readings: Ez 37:21-28/ Jn 11:45-567  

"It is expedient for us that one man die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing." Here we have an example of how God can communicate to us at different levels of understanding. While the Sanhedrin were thinking in political categories, the evangelist could see that there was a deeper and more lasting meaning to those words. Their deeper meaning belonged to the order of salvation for all time and for all men.  

Jesus Christ died in order to make us "children of God." How grateful we should be to God. He did not leave us alone in our sinfulness. He did what was necessary to restore us to his friendship.   

Word Today, March 24, 2002 (PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION)

    Readings: Mt 21:1-11 (37)/ Is 50:4-7/ Phil 2:6-11/ Mt 26:14--27:66 or 27:11-54  

Today we begin the Holy Week. The opening liturgy re-enacts Jesus Christ's triumphal entry to Jerusalem, as he is acclaimed by the people through the waving of palms. But this apparent victory is short-lived. The gospel reading is about the passion of the Lord, from his agony in the garden all the way to his death and burial.  

By presenting the passion to us, the Church is encouraging us to reflect this week on those fateful events. We can only fully appreciate the Paschal Mystery if we know the meaning of the suffering and death of Christ. As we reflect on the different aspects of the passion, there is an important viewpoint we should always maintain. Christ endured all that suffering out of love for us. We should not remain indifferent.  

Word Today, Mar. 25, 2002 (Monday of Holy Week )

    Readings: Is 42:1-7/ Jn 12:1-11  

The gospel reading today contains the incident that may have confirmed the traitor Judas in his decision to betray Jesus. Judas was "scandalized" by what he considered the excessive prodigality of Mary of Bethany towards the person of Jesus. "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?" Jesus corrected Judas not because of his concern for the poor, but for his lack of refinement with Christ himself.  

There is no conflict between concern for the poor and generosity in worship. The physical conditions of the church and of the materials used for worship, especially those which come in contact with the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, must be elegant and noble. Without being luxurious, they should be dignified. The anawim, the poor of the Lord, appreciate generosity in worship. They are like the widow who gave in her little mite and earned the admiration of Christ for her generosity.  

Word Today, Mar 26., 2002 (Tuesday of Holy Week)

    Readings: Is 49:1-6/ Jn 13:21-33, 36-38  

The gospel today talks about two disappointing events. The first event is the betrayal of the Lord by Judas. The second event is the prediction of St. Peter's denial. At this point, they both seem to be equally disappointing. We know that later on, however, the betrayal of Judas will end up in apparent despair, while the denial of Peter will end up in repentance.  

We are all prone to fall short of the expectations God has for us. Let us try to react like Peter rather than like Judas. The key is to keep close to Christ, to turn to Jesus Christ, even in our very failures. Turn to Christ in sorrow and repentance, with the hope of being forgiven. Do not fall into despair.   

Word Today, Mar. 27, 2002 ( Wednesday of Holy Week)

    Readings: Is 50:4-9a/ Mt 26:14-25  

The gospel reading still focuses on the betrayal of Judas. We can learn something from Matthew's narrative. We know that Judas had already decided to betray Jesus. Yet when each apostle asks the Lord if he (the apostle who is asking the question) would be the unknown betrayer, Judas has the audacity to pretend that he still was not aware of his betrayal. He was being insincere and hypocritical. 

Perhaps the difference between Peter's ability to repent and Judas' recourse to despair lies in their sincerity. Peter, in spite of his weakness, was sincere. Judas, with all his apparent cleverness, was insincere. We have a test of sincerity in the sacrament of Penance. By being sincere in confession, we can turn our mistakes into opportunities for conversion.   

Word Today, Mar. 28, 2002 (Holy Thursday)

    Readings : Chrism Mass: Is 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9/ Rv 1:5-8/ Lk 4:16-21 Lord's Supper: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14/ 1 Cor 11:23-26/ Jn 13:1-15   

Today is a very special day. We commemorate the institution of two very important sacraments. In the Chrism Mass, we remember how Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament we now call "Holy Orders", by designating the apostles present at the Last Supper as priests, by telling them to do the Eucharistic sacrifice "in remembrance of me." In the Mass of the Lord's Supper, we pay more attention to the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.  

Let us pray today for more vocations to the priesthood. Let us pray for the holiness and faithfulness of all priests. Let us try to accompany the Eucharistic Lord in the altars of repose where he will be kept this evening.   

Word Today, March 29, 2002 ( Good Friday of the Lord's Passion)

    Readings: Is 52:13--53:12/ Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9/ Jn 18:1--19:42  

Perhaps we are puzzled by the designation of this Friday of the Lord's death as something "good". It goes along the same line as the phrase we shall find during the Easter chant (Exultet) which refers to the fall of Adam and Eve as the "happy sin". This is a good Friday because our redemption is finally accomplished. Heaven is opened for us. The fall of our first parents is "happy" because, as the chant says, it was the cause for the coming of such a wonderful Redeemer and Savior.  

Today there is a communion rite and adoration (or veneration) of the cross. We adore the cross in so far as the cross is the special symbol of Christ himself who is God. As we gaze at the dead Christ limp on the cross, we look forward to his coming resurrection.   

Word Today, March 30, 2002 (Holy Saturday)

    Readings: Gn 1:1--2:2 or 1:1, 26-31a/ Gn 22:1-18 or 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18/ Ex 14:15--15:1/ Is 54:5-14/ Is 55:1-11/ Bar 3:9-15, 32--4:4/ Ez 36:16-17a, 18-28/ Rom 6:3-11/ Mt 28:1-10  

Today is a day without any official liturgy. We remember the Lord as he lay in the tomb. In anticipation of the joy of Easter, we now consider the loneliness of death and sin.  

Sin separates us from God. A soul separated from God is desolate and empty. As Augustin said, our hearts have been made for God, and they remain restless until they rest in God. If we find ourselves cut off from God by sin, let us not hesitate to turn back to him. The greatest joy is the joy of conversion.   


    Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43/ Col 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8/ Jn 20:1-9 or Mt 28:1-10 or, at an afternoon or evening Mass, Lk 24:13-35  

Easter is the most important celebration for Christianity. With faith, we do not consider it merely as an event that has taken place and is over. Easter is an on-going reality because Christ IS risen.  

When we entered the new millennium, the Pope wanted the Church to focus its attention on the reality of the Incarnation of Jesus. The motto of the Great Jubilee Year was "Christus, heri, hodie, semper." It is a phrase adapted from St. Paul, which means "Christ, yesterday, today, always." On this day that we remember how Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again, we can be filled with the truth of Jesus Christ's real presence among us. As followers of this living Christ, we are invited to be his friend, to have a personal relationship with him.  

HOME  |  CBCP News  |  Bishops  |  Jurisdictions  |  Commissions  |
CBCP Documents  |  Contact CBCP  |  General Info