Triggers – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 4:1-13, First Sunday of Lent In the past couple of months on different occasions, three friends of mine told me that they finally deactivated their Facebook accounts. The latest one was a priest-friend, a very eloquent and dynamic professor of theology at their seminary in the province. “I’ve finally taken myself out of Facebook,” he said. “When it’s the online bickering for and…

Work to Do – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 6:1-6;16-18, Ash Wednesday In Loyola School of Theology, I teach a course called Introduction to Sacramental Theology. We recently finished our lesson on the Eucharist. But something’s still stuck in my head about the Last Supper, that last “Eucharistic celebration” Jesus had with his friends the night before he died. Did you notice that in the Last Supper, Jesus gave communion to Peter and…

”Love” thy Enemy – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 6:27-38, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time In the time of Jesus, the slap most commonly done was a backhanded slap. A backhanded slap was what masters gave slaves, or commanders gave soldiers, or centurions gave Jews. A backhanded slap, therefore, was not only a punishment, but also a reminder of status: “I am master, you’re…

Language of Love – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 8:22-26, Wednesday of Week 6 in Ordinary Time Jesus knew the law very well. He knew it since he was 12. So, he was well aware that he was committing a triple whammy of impurities that day. Whammy #1: he talked to a blind man, whom the law considered unclean. Then, he touched him…

Emptiness – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 5:1-11, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Don’t you find it strange that right after a huge catch of fish, Peter suddenly falls on his knees before Jesus and makes a confession: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”? You know, sisters and brothers, in almost all the retreatants I have accompanied…

Never Abandoned – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 6:1-6, Wednesday of Week 4 in Ordinary Time We have a dear, dear lady who works for us, Nancy. She’s by far one of the most industrious people I’ve met in my Jesuit life. She’s in her early 30s, shorter and much thinner than I. But she’s a dynamo. She’s always doing chores. Even…

Wide Open – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 4:21-30, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time From back in the Lord’s day up to today, the synagogue remains a consecrated place of prayer—Jews worshipped there, of learning—they studied the Torah there, & of social gathering—they came together to discuss religious matters there, too. Here are some rules in Jewish synagogues today. I quote from the “Laws of Synagogue Etiquette” by a Rabbi Eliezer Wenger. “No running around in the synagogue….

Consecrate – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 3:15-16; 21-22, The Baptism of the Lord When you “consecrate” something, the idea is to take that something and set it apart from similar things because you would like it to serve a different purpose. To consecrate something is to make it, well, “special,” because now, the purpose it serves is, say, bigger or…

Like You – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Christmas Eve 2018 It was around this time of night many, many years ago, when I was little—littler—when a very rare electrical storm ripped through Davao City. Lightning and thunder looked and sounded like they were tearing each other apart. They say only thunder makes a sound, lightning doesn’t. But I remember lightning cracking like…

Apocalypse Now – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36, First Sunday of Advent I have a personal beef with end-of-the-world scenarios, or what we call in theology, apocalypses. When I was growing up in Davao, our elders terrorized us at one time or another with end-of-the-world scenarios – mainly to cow us into submission to their do’s and don’t’s, for us…

The End of the World – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 13:24-32, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time When I was growing up in Davao, it took very little for elders to start talking about the end of the world. When there was an earthquake, a typhoon, a plane crash, war, flood—very soon, mom or lola or manang would sit up anxiously share what they “heard”…

Pari-seo – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 11:42-46, Wednesday of Week 28 in Ordinary Time Jesus was much kinder to prostitutes and tax collectors than to Pharisees and teachers of the law. Oh, Jesus didn’t condone prostitutes and tax collectors. He socialized with them, yes, but with the intention of turning them around. He couldn’t turn Pharisees around, though. They were…