Do you sometimes feel that God is unfair? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 10:1-16, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time A landowner goes out at dawn and hires laborers to work in his vineyard. He does the same at 9:00 am, 12:00 noon, 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm. That evening, those who  started working at 5:00 pm are given a full day’s wage. Those who started working at…

What About God Are You Not Yet Ready For? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 16:13-20, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time “He strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ” (Matthew 16:20). In our Gospel today, Simon Peter correctly identifies who Jesus is – he is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. But then Jesus forbids Simon Peter and the other disciples to…

Why Let The Bad Mix With The Good? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 13:24-43, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time “…if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest…” (Matthew 13:29-30). I read our Gospel today, and I remember the spicy surprise that met a Jesuit who transplanted sprigs of basil beside some sili. After a few weeks,…

Can Worship be Mixed with Doubt? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 28:16-20, Solemnity of the Ascension In our Gospel today, the eleven disciples climb a mountain to meet the risen Jesus, and we read, “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted” (Matthew 28:17). There was Jesus, flesh and blood proof of the resurrection, showing them that his promises had been fulfilled and that…

What happens when we forgive? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

John 20:19-31, Diving Mercy Sunday “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23). The verse above has often been used to speak about the grace given to priests to absolve sins in the Sacrament of Confession. But I think it can also be read – in a…

Is Your Belief Based only on Blessing? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

John 9:1-41, Fourth Sunday of Lent When Jesus heard that [the Jews] had thrown [the man who had been blind] out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35) If I were Jesus, I would have asked that question earlier in the story – just after the man…

What are your priorities? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 6:24-34, Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them… Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all…

How do you imagine the Kingdom? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 4:12-23, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time In our Gospel today, we hear Jesus preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). The Greek word translated as “repent,” metanoeite, comes from meta (beyond) and nous (mind). Literally, metanoeitemeans “to go beyond the mind.” More elegantly, it can be rendered “to go…

Who is the God you are waiting for? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Matthew 24:37-44, First Sunday of Advent Twenty-eight days before Christmas! Some people begin numbering the days to December 25 as soon as the “ber” months arrive. Last year, I chanced upon a website that started a Christmas countdown on December 26. But I wonder: Would people be as excited for Christmas if our Gospel today…

What does it mean to be humble? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Luke 18:9-14a, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time In our Gospel today, a Pharisee and a tax collector go to the temple to worship God. What do we need so that we can worship? It is the hollow in a cylindrical piece of wood that makes it a flute and enables it to produce music. In…

What do you do with difference? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him…” (Mark 9:38). Why did John attempt to stop this other exorcist he chanced upon? John’s answer: “Because he does not follow us.” Because the other exorcist was not one of them. Because he…