How Do We Return To Jerusalem Changed? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Our Gospel today, Luke 24:13-35, begins with two disciples of Jesus journeying to Emmaus. They must have been dejected. Wasn’t Jesus supposed to redeem Israel? How could one then make sense of his gruesome death on the cross? They might have been distraught. If they had left everything to follow Jesus, what was going to…

Why Is This Pandemic Happening? Francis Alvarez, SJ

“As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?’ ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered, ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in…

How Can You Be Complete? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

“Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). In theory, this can be affirming to perfectionists. It can validate their desire to get everything right – Jesus himself commanded this, and so we must pursue it, right? But in practice, nothing can be more frustrating than seeing your efforts always falling short….

How Do We Read Scripture – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Pope Francis invites us to dedicate the third Sunday in Ordinary Time to the Word of God. Accompanied by today’s Gospel, let us try to see how we can study Scripture in a way that also leads us to pray about it and celebrate it. How do we read Scripture? We dive in and look…

What Does “With” Mean? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

“Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Emmanuel is not the name by which we have come to know the Messiah, but it is how we can understand his mission. Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled because in Jesus, God has become…

Do You Stand Apart From Or A Part Of? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

In our Gospel today, Jesus tells us, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This is not the first time Jesus says this in the Gospel of Luke. Almost two months ago, on September 1, we heard our Lord deliver the same message in Luke 14:11. The…

Dare You Ask For The Spirit? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

“Ask and you will receive,” Jesus promises us in our Gospel today. But let’s be real and go deeper: How many times have you prayed for a particular favor only to be disappointed? What do you do when you ask but do not receive? The way I used to make sense of the times when…

How Can We Be More Connected? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

Luke 9:11b-17, Solemnity of Corpus Christi Today, the Feast of Corpus Christi, Catholics thank God for the gift of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We believe that in the consecrated bread and wine, Jesus is truly there. When we receive the Body of Christ, it is indeed Jesus we are receiving. This may conjure…

What Is Fullness? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

When Jesus tells us today, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you,” I think he wishes us more than just an absence of conflict. Peace here is not just a space of quiet and calm, a break in the fighting, nor a cessation of hostilities. What Jesus wants to bless us…

Isn’t Doubt Good? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

“I have doubts about my faith.” More than a few times, I have been approached with this concern. My usual reply: “What do you mean by having doubts? If you mean you have questions about your faith, then congratulations! It is good that you have questions about your faith. This is a sign that you…

Will We Always Have Second Chances? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

A caveat: This reflection does not guarantee warm and fuzzy feelings. To stress this warning, let me share with you this essay’s working title: “Are You Ready to Die?” In the first part of our Gospel today, we hear about “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.” Some scholars…

When Is It Enough? – Francis Alvarez, SJ

There are many ways to read the Word of God. A dangerous way would be to read Scripture literally. “From the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic,” Jesus says in our Gospel today. Tell that to someone being robbed. A more responsible way to read God’s word would be to…