Ours – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 20:19-23, Pentecost One time, I visited with some sisters doing a conference in one of the retreat houses in the city. The retreat house was run by another group of very kind nuns and they welcomed all their clients to join them at their daily morning masses. Over supper, my sister-friends said, “Arnel, the…

Rise and Fall – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 16:15-20, Solemnity of The Ascension of The Lord What goes up must come down. What rises must fall. That’s the law of gravity. But, what comes down must go up? Now that’s the “law” of the Ascension. In fact, that’s the whole Paschal Mystery, motion-wise: what descends eventually rises. For scientists who don’t believe…

We Do – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 15:9-17, Sixth Sunday in Easter Last year, when I was at the airport, there was this very rowdy kid, maybe 9 or 10 years old. He was running around, getting up and stepping on the seats. He even mindlessly stepped over a seated lady as he jumped from one seat to the next. Beside…

Putol – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 10:11-18, Fourth Sunday of Easter Have you ever been to our novitiate in Novaliches? We have a small flock of sheep over there. They’re let out in the morning then herded back into the pen after lunch. Sacred Heart Novitiate doubles up as a retreat facility, so you can imagine how a small flock…

Certain – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 20:19-31, Divine Mercy Sunday I’m sure you’ve seen Caravaggio’s painting entitled, L’incredulitá di San Tommaso, literally, The Incredulity of St. Thomas, or simply, the Doubting Thomas. Thomas is hunched over, his face awfully close to the Risen Christ’s naked chest. One-half of his forefinger is buried in the wound on Jesus’ side. Thomas is…

Suffering – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 12:20-23, Fifth Sunday of Lent Don’t you find it interesting that just as Jesus says his hour of “glorification” has come, in the very same breath, he talks about grain that dies before it bears fruit, and life that we must lose before we gain it back. “Glorified” means lifting up to a place…

Keeping Score – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 3:14-21, Fourth Sunday of Lent I grew up dreading “the loss of heaven and the pains of hell,” like we say in the act of contrition. My mom and her mom instilled that dread in me, for good or for ill. When I couldn’t finish the rice on my plate, for instance, they would…

Anger – Arnel Aquino, SJ

John 2:12-35, Third Sunday of Lent I grew up in an angry home. We lived with my maternal grandparents who were migrants from Ibaan, Batangas, where they were quite poor. Venturing to Davao, my grandfather worked his way up from maglalako ng kulambo to landowner. But that whole arduous climb made him and lola such…

Fire and Wire – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 11:29-32, Wednesday of the 1st week of Lent There’s a little mantra that neuroscientists believe: “Cells that fire together wire together.” Whenever our body does something, there is a particular network of that fire together, enabling the body to precisely do what it does. You read a book, that’s a particular network of neurons…

Opposites – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 1:12-15, First Sunday of Lent The story of Noah and the flood is not a Genesis original. It’s from a much older Babylonian myth called Atra-Hasis. That’s also the name of the story’s hero. In the myth, the demi-gods grow weary of the mortals they’ve created out of clay. So they plan on destroying…

Unselfie – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18, Ash Wednesday If today’s Gospel were written in 21st-century vernacular, maybe it would say: “When you do righteous deeds…when you give alms…when you pray…when you fast, please…take care not to post it on Facebook, or announce it on your blog, or humble-brag about it. Most of all, take care not to take…

Burn – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 1:40-45, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Have you ever been moved with pity so deeply that you felt it in your guts, na sobra kang awang-awa na parang hinalukay ang bituka mo? The last time I felt very deep pity was last Monday. I was waiting for a cab down in Barangka. I decided…