Promise – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 9:28b-36, Second Sunday of Lent

When I was a novice in Novaliches, I happily looked forward to life in Loyola House. Then when I was in Loyola House, I did my best even if I wasn’t enjoying Philosophy because I was looking forward to regency. I loved regency and wish it lasted longer. But then, I began looking forward to Theology—which I also loved. Then my desire to be a priest became more and more intense, so while in Theology, I looked forward to ordination. I served as a priest in Cebu for two years. I knew even then that I was going to be sent for graduate studies abroad. Well, that was another thing I was eager to do! I spent four of my happiest years in Boston. On my last year there, I looked forward to returning to teach theology here. Then I had to do tertianship, which I wasn’t excited about—because I had to stop teaching for a year. But boring as tertianship was, I looked forward to going back to teaching!

So, here I am now, 25 years a Jesuit, 11 years a priest, and wondering, “So, what’s next? What’s the next big thing? The next exciting step? As of now, I couldn’t find anything. Oh, I’m very happy with my life in Loyola School of Theology and San Jose Seminary and my ministries. But what’s next? I don’t know. What I do know is that I need to find something to look forward to next. I feel I’ll need it desperately someday. Then again, maybe I’m just “mid-lifing”?

My dear sisters, I know you understand where I’m coming from as a religious. You and I need a constant promise that we could look forward to, so that whatever passion we go through today, we can go through it with endurance and hope—because we know it will eventually give way to that promise in the morrow. Can you imagine how dark religious life could be in the absence of that promise, that spark, that gleam of a guarantee we could keep our eyes on, while we try our best to live in the now? Can you imagine God not giving us anything to look forward to, no promise other than the work that needs to be finished, papers that need to be graded, accounts that need to be balanced, etc.? And, you know what, sisters, it’s not a sin. It is not bad to look for a promise. God doesn’t take it against us that our hearts are driven to look beyond, to look forward—to a promise that will make our passion today worth embracing. God wired our hearts to be that way: that we’re constantly impelled towards a promise.

The Transfiguration of Jesus, dear sisters, was the promise of the Resurrection. It was the Father’s way of showing the Son what he could look forward to—because the days following the Transfiguration would be the most dreadful days in Jesus’ entire life. His enemies would finally catch up with him. He would be subjected to the most painful horrors of slow death. He would be entering the darkest night of his life as he wondered where he went wrong.

But as you and I have seen, our Lord would withstand many hours of suffering and pain until his last breath on the cross. I bet what kept him going through all that passion was the promise he was guaranteed would be waiting for him after everything was done, the promise of the Resurrection.

I pray for us, sisters, you and me—that we may always see the promise God keeps aflame for us each day. We need it for our everyday joy. We need it especially for our everyday passion. May God’s constant promise transfigure our passions. Amen.

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