Can You Join The Christmas Movement? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

“Talo ka sa lolo ko….” Not only can jokes of this type make you slap your knee in laughter, they can also make you stroke your chin in thought. This is humor which tickles your funny bone and at the same time, touches something deep inside of you, something raw, something that makes you flinch….

Should We Still Hail Kingship? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

In our modern (some would say post-modern, or even post-post-modern) world, when monarchy is mainly for ceremony, does the Feast of Christ the King still have meaning? As we let this and then that fad lord it over our lives, as we bow to fleeting trifles, maybe there is an even greater need to remind…

What Do You Really Want? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Bartimaeus did not have sight in both of his eyes, but this did not prevent him from seeing the answer to three of life’s most important questions. The first question: What do you want? Some of us drift from one thing to another. Sometimes, this is because we do not know what we really want….

Can You Say Yes To What Is Hard? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life. Before we hastily dismiss these disciples of Jesus, we have to give them credit. First of all, they were paying enough attention to…

What Makes A Good Shepherd? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

There is a verse in our Gospel today that gives us an interesting detail: People were coming and going in such great numbers to see Jesus and the Twelve that the Lord and his apostles had no opportunity even to eat. If Christ and his disciples had not eaten, then chances are the people who…

What Are Your Blessings For? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Luke 1:57-66, 80, Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist Oscar Wilde tells the parable of a supercilious rocket so enamored with his pedigree and potential that he shed copious tears while talking about himself. Alas, his tears dampened his gunpowder. When his time came to be lit, he was too wet and…

How Are Your Relationships? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

A family has lunch at a restaurant. The parents and their teenaged children are gathered around one table, but hardly a word is exchanged among them. It is not because their mouths are full; it is because their eyes are glued to palm-sized screens and their fingers are busy tapping away. The scene above is…

Why Sheep? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Sheep (including lambs, ewes, and rams) are the most mentioned animals in Scripture. And in many instances in their flock of appearances, sheep are used as metaphors for the people of God. To bleat out a few verses, in Ezekiel 34:30-31, we read, “They shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them,…

Where Is God? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

When Jesus dies in the Gospel according to Mark, the centurion at the foot of the cross exclaims, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” We should not project onto that Roman officer’s words what we believe today about the divinity of Christ: eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light,…

What Does It Mean To Have Authority? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Mark 1:21-28, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Twice in our Gospel today, Jesus is described as someone with authority. But he did not hold any position in the community like the elders or the scribes. Nor did he have power like the chief priests and the Romans. What does it mean to have authority? “He…

What Is Joy? – Fr. Francis Alvarez, SJ

“And coming to Mary, the angel Gabriel said, ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you’” (Luke 1:28). Those who pray the rosary regularly will easily recognize our Gospel today, the Annunciation, as the first joyful mystery. But I have often wondered if the real mystery lies in how we can consider this whole…

Do You Really Want God As Your Shepherd? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

In our first reading today, God tells us, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep… I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark” (Ezekiel 34:11-12). God is not an absentee lord but a hands-on shepherd who cares for each and every one of us in a…