Zero Tolerance – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 18:15-20, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time If China came to invade us and stayed a few years outlawing any citizens’s organizations, imagine how many religious and para-religious communities would be decimated, or even killed: like the Couples for Christ, the Iglesia ni Kristo, the charismatic communities, and who knows, maybe even Catholic parishes. That…

Martyr – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 16:21-27, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time An Australian scholastic lived with us many years ago. When he noticed that I took my studies very seriously, he said: “Hey, Arnel, back in Australia, Jesuits have a saying: ‘You’re no good to us, dead.’” I didn’t get it then. So, he explained. “It means that the…

Kata-holos – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 15:21-28, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time First, let’s explain the most troublesome spot in the Gospel where Jesus seemed to have referred to the Canaanite woman as a “dog.” According to some scholars, Matthew’s community back in the day had two voices, like two schools of thought: the particularist and the universalist. Christians with…

Original Blessedness – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 1:39-56, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary When you and I were children, oh, 500 years ago, our elders taught us that Mary was “taken up to heaven, body and soul.” Why was that special? Well, “when ordinary people like us die,” our elders said, “our souls go to heaven, leaving our bodies…

Kingdom of God – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 13:24-43, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Many years ago, I asked my maternal grandfather what it was like during the Japanese occupation. I don’t remember now what he said. I do remember, though, what I felt after he said it. He was very brief but very resentful, enough to stop me from ever asking…

Partners in Mission – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 16:13-19, Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, Apostles A big difference between Saint Peter and Saint Paul was their idea of “mission,” or more technically, their “missiology.” Peter thought that the mission Jesus entrusted to them was meant only for Israel, for the Jews. Now that the promised Messiah had come, the Jews must…

Truth to Power – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 10:26-33, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time When I was still in school many years ago, I signed a petition. We were requesting for a change of professor. The petition was our last resort. We had already made more diplomatic requests but they all fell on deaf ears. Finally, the administration honored our petition, and…

No Metaphysics Needed – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 6:51-58, Solemnity of Corpus Christi “With all due respect, St Thomas, it’s getting harder and harder to explain the Real Presence of Christ in the host and wine, using your metaphysics.” I recently contemplated a gutsy conversation with St Thomas Aquinas. “Your metaphysics was revolutionary, dear St Thomas. During consecration, the substantia of bread…

Divine Indwelling – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 20:19-23, Feast of the Pentecost Whenever I get to bless a new car, I’m often amused when the owner stumbles around, rushing to open everything that can ever be swung open: doors, hood, trunk, even glove compartment! A seminarian once asked: “Fr. Arnel, valid ba ang blessing kung sarado?” He used air quotes on…

Allow – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 13:16-20, Thursday of the 4th week of Eastertide According to neuro-psychiatrists, we produce at least 50,000 thoughts a day. 70-80% of those are negative. So, we’re all negative thinkers by default. But behavioral psychologists say it’s our mind’s way of constantly alerting us to danger, so we can self-protect. We’re not often conscious of…

A Saving Love – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 21:1-11, Palm Sunday I’ve had asthma since I was born and hypertension since I was 23. So, when experts said that people with comorbidity had less chances of surviving Covid-19, that nailed me. And I felt nailed almost every day in the first two weeks of lockdown; nailed on fear, nailed on anxiety, nailed…

Laetare – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 9:1-41, 4th Sunday of Lent Our Gospel today is bursting with ironies. Maybe it’s just fitting for Laetare Sunday. Because when you look at the story in a more light-hearted way, its ironies can actually bring a faint smile to your face. The man was born blind, so people presumed either he or his…