Filipino Catholics and non-Catholics, especially those in the clerical and religious circles are over-familiar with Fr. Arevalo either as a teacher, a conference speaker, a writer, a spiritual guide, or simply, as a servant of the Church. By God’s sheer grace, I have known him in the late 90s in the classroom – his theological mind sharp as a samurai sword and the calm abiding of his demeanor – silencing. Pause. I don’t intend to write a long tribute. But for those who are beginning to be curious about him since his homily during Tita Cory’s funeral mass, your curiosity must at least begin with the Man named Jesus. It’s a prerequisite for him, and he will only make sense to you within this given. By the time you listen or read him again, expect to be silenced, be awed, by the simplicity and depth of God criss-crossing through our broken lives. Be open: his words will prick your soul, more if it’s long been basking in complacency while carrying the Christian ID.
Here’s a little chizmax: if St. Ambrose once pricked the spiritual brilliance in St. Augustine, Fr. Arevalo had lullabied the same brilliance in the now globally glowing Bishop Chito Tagle. If you are Catholic and haven’t heard Bishop Tagle talk, you might want to start as his Facebook fan.
It is no surprise to me that the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC) had recently honored him as the Father of Asian Theology. Still, I celebrate within, understanding theology not so much as an academic degree or expertise but as an ever-growing curiosity and acceptance on how God is so deeply involved in all facets of our lives. Salamat po, Fr. Arevalo for weaving those stories of God’s involvement!