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MAY 2002

Word Today,
May 1, 2002 (Saint Joseph the Worker)

    Readings: Acts 15:1-6/ Jn 15:1-8 or (for memorial) Gn 1:26--2:3 or Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24/ Mt 13:54-58 

The first reading from Genesis shows us that God put man in the garden of delights not to lead an idle life but to work. Man had to cultivate the field. The second reading identifies St. Joseph as the carpenter or craftsman, and Jesus as his son. In another narrative, we know that Jesus himself practiced the craftsman's trade. It was customary at that time that children took up the work of their parents. 

Work is a gift of God. Work ennobles man. All work is a sharing in God's activity. There is no honest work that we should look down upon. The value of our work depends on the love and diligence that we put into it. Let us be "proud" of our work and carry it out to the best of our ability.   

Word Today, May 2, 2002 ( Thursday 5th Week of Easter)

    Readings : Acts 15:7-21/ Jn 15:9-11  

If being united to Christ is so vital, how do we go about it? Today's gospel tells us how. "Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love." 

We sometimes identify closeness to Christ with good feelings, perhaps of benevolence or of a deep sense of peace and contentment. While those sentiments may be signs of being close to God, they are not the real test. To be united to God is to love Him. And the essence of love is to do the will of God, which is expressed in his commandments. Thus, those who want to work for the Lord's vineyard must exert effort to make morally upright choices, even if their feelings seem to go against these demands of the moral law. 

Word Today, May 3, 2002 ( Saints Philip and James, apostles )

    Readings: 1 Cor 15:1-8/ Jn 14:6-14  

The gospel today contains the mysterious words of Christ, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." On the occasion Christ said this, he also told Philip, one of the Apostles whom we commemorate today, "He that has seen me has seen the Father… I am in the Father and the Father in me." At that time, they were probably at a loss about the meaning of these words. From our perspective, we have a better understanding of these words. 

Christ is our mediator to God. He is our way to God. Through Christ, we come to know the truth (revelation) and we acquire a new life (a share in God's life). This is possible because Christ is both man and God. As God, Christ is in perfect unity with God the Father. If we go to Christ, we end up in the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity.  

Word Today, May 4, 2002 (Saturday 5th Week of Easter )

    Readings: Acts 16:1-10/ Jn 15:18-21  

Friendship with Christ is not a bed of roses. "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." We know that friendship is tested in the crucible of suffering and contradictions. Our true friends are not those with whom we have a nice time, but who disappear when the good times are over. Our friends are those who will stick by us during our difficult moments. 

Friendship with Christ means not to abandon our dealings with him even if we feel dry. If we stop praying just because we do not get nice feelings, then we were praying for ourselves and not out of friendship with Christ. Really to follow Christ includes readiness to suffer.  

Word Today, May 5, 2002 (SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER )

    Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17/ 1 Pt 3:15-18/ Jn 14:15-21  

Aside from the promise that he would return and that he would send "another advocate", the gospel of today also contains a very clear lesson from Christ. "If you love me, keep my commandments...He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me." (Jn 14:15 and 21) We all know that the Christian message is a message of love, that the aim of the Christian is the perfect love of God and love of neighbor. But here, Jesus Christ is teaching us the true meaning of "love"--which is a word that, unfortunately, is much abused nowadays. 

It is selfishness, not love, that makes a person satisfy his own selfish sexual instincts with total disregard for future responsibilities. It is selfishness, not love, that makes a person so possessive as to hinder the future happiness of someone else. How many empty promises there are, made in the name of love, but actually motivated by selfishness! And if human love is so often misunderstood, what more when we talk about the love of God? 

Of course, the love of God cannot be reduced to an empty fulfillment of some rules--the commandments have to be followed out of love. But it would also be wrong to think that we can truly love God without respecting and following these rules, which to the true lover are not seen as restrictions, but as demands of love freely taken up.   

Word Today, May 6, 2002 (Monday 6th Week of Easter )

    Readings: Acts 16:11-15/ Jn 15:26--16:4a 

In today's gospel reading, Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit whom he calls "Advocate". Other versions translate the word as "Paraclete" or "Consoler". This gospel is like an anticipation of the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost, which will come in a few weeks. 

All these terms referring to the Holy Spirit point to the reality of the Holy Spirit's role in our life. The Holy Spirit will enlighten us. The Holy Spirit will come to our defense. The Holy Spirit will give us consolation. What Jesus did for his followers two thousand years ago, that the Holy Spirit does for us now. 

Word Today, May 7, 2002 (Tuesday 6th Week of Easter)

    Readings: Acts 16:22-34/ Jn 16:5-11  

"Unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." In a few days, we shall be celebrating the Lord's Ascension to heaven. Jesus said these words before his passion, death and resurrection. But he was already referring to his final departure from earth. Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, the promised Advocate came -- the Holy Spirit who descended upon the gathered disciples on Pentecost. 

Yet Jesus continues to remain with us under the appearance of bread and wine in the sacrament of the Eucharist. This sacramental presence of Jesus is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a real presence, although we do not have Christ in the way he appeared two thousand years ago. Let us increase our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.   

Word Today, May 8, 2002 (Wednesday 6th Week of Easter)

    Readings: Acts 17:15, 22--18:1/ Jn 16:12-15  

"But when he,the Spirit of truth, has come, he will teach you all the truth." It may sound presumptuous, but as a follower of Christ, we must accept that we have received "all the truth." This does not refer to merely human teachings, because God has left us the sphere of temporal realities to go on discovering truths, as in the case of natural sciences. This fulness of truth refers to the "saving truth" of divine revelation. 

Since Christ is the Word of God made man who came to save us, he has given us the fulness of saving truth. Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Other beliefs may have a share or participation of Christ's fulness. These elements help their adherents to get close to God and, eventually, to Christ the Savior.  

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

    Readings : Acts 18: 1-8 / Jn 16: 16-20 

"I go to the Father." With these words, Jesus Christ may have been talking about his Ascension to heaven, that will follow his resurrection. Today, however, it may be good to concentrate on the fact that Christ referred to God as Father. 

Like Christ, we must all be imbued with a deep awareness that God is our father. Like the good father that he is, God wants us to be happy. Heaven is a place and state of perfect union with God, who will fill up all the yearnings of the human heart. To go to the Father is to go to heaven.  

Word Today, May 10, 2002 (Friday of the 6th Week of Easter)

    Readings: Acts 18:9-18/ Jn 16:20-23a  

Jesus Christ said, "I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you." This passage makes us consider the joy a Christian should have. Christianity, although its symbol is the cross (which is associated with hardship), is a religion of joy and happiness.  

Anyone can have a good laugh and still be sad deep down inside. Joy is not just having a fun time. True joy, the one that "no one shall take from you", is based on the deep conviction coming from faith that God is our father who loves us madly. When hardships come (and come it must for everyone because we live in an imperfect world), Christian joy is not removed. By uniting our sufferings with Christ on the cross, our joy becomes even more firmly rooted. A Christian can continue to smile in spite of external and internal hardships.  

Word Today, May 11, 2002 (Saturday 6th Week of Easter )

    Readings: Acts 18:23-28/ Jn 16:23b-28  

In the first reading we have an example of the apostolic fervor of the early Christians. Priscilla and Aquila, a Christian couple who were close to St. Paul, came across Apollo, who was an eloquent man who talked about Jesus Christ. But Apollo had not received proper Christian initiation through sacramental baptism. So Priscilla and Aquila "took an interest in him and gave him further instruction" about Christianity. 

As we go about our day, we must take a genuine interest in the well-being of our companions. We should not let occasions to do good pass us by. If we see an opportunity to bring someone closer to God (for example, by encouraging them in their Christian life), we should care for them enough to go out of our way to do so. We could help our friends avail of the many graces coming from God through the different liturgical celebrations as we prepare for the Lord's Ascension.  

Word Today, May 12, 2002 (Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension )

    Readings: Acts 1:1-11/ Eph 1:17-23/ Mt 28:16-20  

After giving his followers the command to preach the gospel and to "make disciples of all nations", Jesus Christ gave them an assurance. "And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time." 

These words are the scriptural basis for our belief in the "indefectibility" of the Church. To be indefectible does not mean that the Church, as the People of God, composed of men and women redeemed by Christ, is free of defects. The Pope's apology for the sins of the children of the Church is a clear admission of the presence of sin and defects in the bosom of the Church. "Indefectibility" means that the Church, the "universal sacrament of salvation", will not fail in its ultimate mission of distributing the fruits of the redemption of Christ. The Catholic Church will last until the end of the world. Meanwhile, it will continue fulfilling the charge laid on it by Christ to preach the Gospel and to invite those who believe, to be washed from their sins through the waters of Baptism.  

Word Today, May 13, 2002 (Monday 7th Week of Easter )

    Readings: Acts 19:1-8/ Jn 16:29-33  

The first reading today can apply to the sacrament of confirmation. After being baptized, Paul "laid his hands" on the new converts then "the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy."  

Confirmation strengthens our commitment to our Christian vocation. It implies the obligation to become "witnesses" of Christ, just like the apostles. That is why the apostolate is not just an obligation of some sectors of the Church. Each and every Christian must be aware of his obligation to be a witness of Christ in his own way, in the place where God has put him. 

Word Today, May 14, 2002 (Saint Matthias, apostle)

    Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26/ Jn 15:9-17  

St. Matthias was the apostle who was chosen to "substitute" for Judas. His being counted among the apostles is narrated in the first reading. St. Peter interpreted the scripture, "His ministry let another take," to mean that someone had to take the place of Judas, who betrayed Jesus and then hanged himself. 

We can see here the mystery of the divine calling. Why does God call some people to his special service? While certain requirements must be fulfilled (for example, they could only choose among those who were present from the beginning of Jesus' public life), ultimately it is not based merely on human qualifications. It is based on a positive choice of God that, in its proper time, is manifested to the person concerned and, perhaps, to others around him. Today, let us pray that God send more vocations to the priesthood, the consecrated life and other forms of ecclesial commitment. 

Word Today, May 15, 2002 (San Isidro Labrador)

    Readings: Acts 20:28-38/ Jn 17:11b-19  

In his prayer, Jesus Christ is asking for the holiness, for the sanctity of his followers. Then he says, "And for them I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth." 

There is a saying that "No one can give what he does not have." This has a special application for those who are active in the apostolate. Just like Christ, if we want the persons around us to become better, we should begin with ourselves. Church workers, like priests or catechists, must try to be consistent in their lives with what they teach. They can only have real apostolic fruits if they strive, like Jesus Christ, to sanctify themselves, to consecrate themselves truly to God.  

Word Today, May 16, 2002 (Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter)

    Readings : Acts 22:30; 23:6-11/ Jn 17:20-26  

The gospel reading contains Christ's prayer for the unity of all Christians. "That all may be one just as you, Father, in me and I in you; that they also may be one in us." 

The movement for the unity of all Christians continues to be a great concern of Pope John Paul II, and it is one of the graces that we should continually pray for. The ecumenical movement is based on sincere dialogue and respect for one another. It seeks to emphasize our common heritage with other Christian communities, and to honestly thresh out differences in fidelity to the truth of the Gospel. Much progress has taken place, resulting in mutual agreements both of a doctrinal and practical nature. Let us all pray for the continued success of these efforts.  

Word Today, May 17, 2002 (Friday of the 7th Week of Easter)

    Readings: Acts 25:13b-21/ Jn 21:15-19  

The gospel today, nearing the end of St. John's narration about the risen Lord, is about Christ's triple question to Peter: "Do you love me more than these do?" The triple question may be a reference to Peter's triple denial before the passion, as if Christ were giving Peter a chance to make up for his earlier offence. But we can marvel at the last answer of Peter: "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you." 

This answer is a model of love and humility. Peter unabashedly declares his love for the Master. But unlike the early Peter's brash and self-confident answers, he does not rely on his own strength or deeds. He is humbler now. He knows he has nothing to brag about. Yet he sticks to his conviction that he loves Jesus. Peter is now ready to become the solid foundation of the Church. He has learned to rely more on Christ than on himself.  

Word Today, May 18, 2002 (Saturday 7th Week of Easter )

    Readings: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31/ Jn 21:20-25  

The reading today contains the last words of the gospel of St. John. "There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written." 

This is a very eloquent testimony in favor of the Church's reliance on Sacred Tradition. The principle of "sola scriptura", which maintains that the bible is the only source of our Christian belief, is paradoxically not upheld by the scripture itself. We must look to the patrimony of the Church (her history, the witness of the first few centuries, the prayers and pious practices) in order to tap all the richness of our belief. For this we must rely on a living reality which enjoys the continuous support of Christ, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the living tradition of the Catholic Church, entrusted by Christ to her legitimate pastors, the successors of the twelve apostles. 

Word Today, May 19, 2002 (PENTECOST SUNDAY )

    Readings: Day: Acts 2:1-11/ 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13/ Jn 20:19-23  

Today we commemorate that day when, soon after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent upon the early Christian community, filling them with vitality and courage to carry out Jesus' last instruction to them of spreading the Gospel. We should not consider Pentecost as an event that once took place and is over and done with. No. The Holy Spirit descended upon the Church on that day, and the Holy Spirit continues with the Church now, without any diminution of His presence. 

The Holy Spirit is like the soul of the Church. The life of the Church is made possible by the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acts, giving effectiveness to the sacraments of the Church, which are the infallible channels of grace. She acts through all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, through the hierarchy and through all the followers of Christ. We should try to sensitize ourselves to recognize the actuation of the Holy Spirit in our ordinary life so that just like those early Christians, we can correspond to the gifts and charisms for the building up of the Church.  

Word Today, May 20, 2002 (Monday 7th Week in Ordinary Time)

    Readings: Jas 3:13-18/ Mk 9:14-29  

Today's reading presents the miracle of the boy possessed by a dumb devil. The scene has been depicted in a masterpiece now located at the Sistine Chapel, painted by the great artist Raphael. There seemed to be a lack of faith, and so the cure was not forthcoming. But we can learn from the reaction of the boy's father. He cried, "I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!" 

How often we may find ourselves in a similar situation. We do believe. But we realize that we need to have more trust and confidence in God. Perhaps we are weighed down by problems. We know we are children of God, but that fact doesn't seem to sink in enough. Let us humbly repeat what that man said. Lord, please increase my faith! 


Word Today, May 28, 2002 (Tuesday of the 8th Week)

    Readings: 1 Pt 1:10-16/ Mk 10:28-31  

There is a mistaken notion going around that if we opt to serve God and seek the happiness of heaven, then we must be resigned to being unhappy on earth. This is not helped at all by some people who purport to serve God on earth, but go about it grudgingly and sadly. The gospel today belies that notion. Jesus told the apostles that those who have left all for the sake of the gospel will receive a hundredfold of what they have given up, "not without persecution, now in the present time" together with heaven later on.

The truth of the matter is that the happiest people, even on earth, are those who have opted to serve God generously. St. Francis, who lived a radical poverty, felt like the owner of the entire universe. Those persons who decide to live a chaste and pure life for love of God are happier than the slaves of lust. God cannot be outdone in generosity. Like a good father, he wants his children to be truly happy in every way. But he does not want us spoiled, so we must also count on difficulties. Yet difficulties are compatible with deep joy and contentment.  

Word Today, May 29, 2002 (Wednesday of the 8th Week)

    Readings: 1 Pt 1:18-25/ Mk 10:32-45  

In order to temper the ambition of the apostles Christ told them that they should not seek to lord it over one another. Instead, in imitation of Christ himself, they should seek to be the servant of the others. Christ himself "did not come to be served but to serve." 

Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, has a very short but meaningful motto, "Serviam". This is Latin for "I will serve." It is the opposite of what was supposed to be the motto of the devil when he rebelled against the plan of God, "I will not serve." An attitude of service is a Christian attitude that will fill our lives with meaning. We must do things for others. What a wonderful motto by which to start the day or any other activity. Today, through my activities, I will serve God and others.  

Word Today, May 30, 2002 (Thursday of the 8th Week)

    Readings 1 Pt 2:2-5, 9-12/ Mk 10:46-52  

In the first reading St. Peter reminds all Christians that they are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God…you are the People of God." What is the meaning of the "royal priesthood?" What is a priest? The letter to the Hebrews says that a priest is a mediator between God and man. . A Christian is a "Christ-bearer", and he/she must bear Christ to other people. Therefore all Christians are priests in the sense that they all have to mediate between God and men 

The "royal priesthood" is what we now call the "common priesthood of the faithful". It involves the mediation that we are all called to do as Christians. But there is another priesthood, which is essentially different from this one. This is called the "ministerial priesthood". It involves the mediation, within the priestly People of God, exercised by those who have received the special sacred power to act "in the person of Christ" the head of the mystical body. Both types of priesthood are important. They complement each other.  

Word Today, May 31, 2002 ( Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

    Readings: Zep 3:14-18 or Rom 12:9-16b/ Lk 1:39-56  

Today is the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary went with haste to the house of her cousin Elizabeth, when she learned that Elizabeth was pregnant. Leaving aside the supernatural happenings involved in the meeting of the two cousins and the beautiful hymns in praise of faith and humility, we can focus on what this visit meant in itself. 

Was Mary visiting just to exchange gossip with her cousin? Was she visiting in order to go sightseeing? No. It seems that Mary went to Elizabeth in order to help her. An elderly woman being pregnant for the first time would need the help of her younger cousin. Mary went there not to enjoy herself or to be pampered, but to serve, to work, to nurse her cousin. How wonderful Mary is! Instead of feeling proud and conceited for being the mother of the future messiah, she made herself available for the menial jobs that Elizabeth could not handle. Let us learn from her.  

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