The family of our departed brother Leandro “Roy” Alvarez, Mrs. Nieves Campa Alvarez, Vince, Miren and Paolo and their sons Alvaro and Gonzalvo; Mama Bising, the brother and sisters who are present here -- Raul, Alma, and Jing; the ALAGA LAHAT members headed by Miss Carminia Gutierrez; the relatives and friends of the family of our Beloved Roy, Good Afternoon!
We were all surprised (and saddened) when we heard the news that Roy died on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. After 40 days we are again gathered to renew together our faith that just as he lived united in Christ, he also died with Christ, and rose from the dead. Today on his "40 days" we remember the ascension of Jesus to heaven and so also the ascension of our brother Roy. I used to be the parish priest of the Lord's Ascension parish in San Fernando City, Pampanga. When we were building the Parish Church, I was consulted Bp. Pablo David, a scripture scholar, about the reality of the ascension because we wanted to come up with a mural of the ascension. He said the image of Jesus should be depicted in a way that you can see his eyes, face and the whole body absorbed and totally directed towards heaven, totally detached from everything.
But he said that there should be a believing community below the ascending Christ, awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit. While ascending there is also a descending movement of the Holy Spirit to fill the disciples with fire, enthusiasm, and zest for the mission. This is the image that has to happen also in the ascension of every Christian. This is also what we expect to happen today as we celebrate the ascension of our Brother Roy. (I can still picture the face of Brother Roy during his wake. He looked as if he was already enjoying paradise). We are the family and the community that await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore allow the Holy Spirit to descend upon us so that He will fill us with greater fire and zest for the mission.
On this third Sunday of Lent, we heard about the encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus has penetrated the depth of her being, not only because she recognized the truth of her sinfulness, but also her deepest thirst for God, the spring of living water that wells up from within us; the living water that once you drink of it, you will never thirst again. She experienced God's immense love for her and the joy that it brought to her. And finally she felt the burning desire for the missions, the fire inside her to share her experience to her people.
Our brother Roy, like the Samaritan woman drank from the water that came from Jesus. In his lifetime, he told us maybe everything that Jesus did to him... his conversion experience. His death, I suppose has brought us together to encounter the Lord. These past 40 days, we must have heard God talking to us repeatedly through the words spoken to us by our brother Roy, through his many conversion stories that he himself used to narrate to us. In this Eucharistic celebration, like the people who have heard the Samaritan woman's testimony, we tell our brother Roy: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
May Roy's great love for God, his devotion to Mother Mary, his fiery love for the poor and the environment, and his ardent and unselfish desire to serve in the missions kindle the fire of love and service in our hearts as we entrust him to the loving embrace of the Lord and his blessed mother. May his loving memory remain in our hearts and minds forever. Amen.
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