Continue striving

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By Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. There was an elephant who wanted to be a photographer. He enjoyed talking about it with his friends. However, his friends would always make fun of him because, for them, there was no camera that would fit an elephant and there were no good spots for pictures in their place. But the elephant pursued his dream. He gathered old tools and spare parts that could be used to create a camera.

When his invention was over, he was happy to take the first pictures.

But he noticed he didn’t look good in the picture. As a result, his friends laughed at him. He was slowly losing hope and he thought his friends were right that his dream of becoming a photographer was futile.

However, the elephant decided to use his sense of humor to take amusing pictures in which all the animals were smiling and laughing.

Indeed, even those moody animals were encouraged to join them.

Since then, many more animals from faraway places have come to him just for pictures.

In our Gospel from St. Luke (13:22-30), Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” It is as if Jesus is making it clear that entering heaven is something to be strived for because it will not be given promptly. We must continuously work for it. However, there are things we must accept to continue striving for something.

Acceptance #1: NOT INSTANT. We must accept that there is no overnight success. Although today’s technology seeks to facilitate instantly our work as regards to communication, transportation, studies and research, food, etc., true success will only be possible through constant work. I did not become a priest overnight. I had been trying to study and undergo formation for fourteen years, overcoming all sorts of challenges.

Acceptance #2: NOT PERFECT. Nobody is perfect. Everyone we know who are famous and successful in their career had also done mistakes in the past. But they stood up from their mistakes and converted them to their advantage. In 2010, I and my batchmates thought that we were to be ordained as deacons. But I was one of those who were not recommended for ordination because of some violations we committed. But I learned from those errors which, I believed, had strengthened me to be where I am now.

Acceptance #3: NOT AN ISLAND. Even though everyone is talented and capable, we still need help from other people. Jesus set an example when he performed his mission together with the Twelve Apostles. Jesus seemed to show us that the journey to Heaven is a communal activity. Thus, hopefully, we see the value of getting ourselves involved in the church, in a community prayer or worship.

Certainly, I did not become a priest all by myself. It was with my parents, relatives, friends, fellow priests who continued to express their trust and support. Without them, I would have nowhere to go in life.

Finally, I wish to leave you with the words of Edwin Louis Cole, “Winners Are Not Those Who Never Fail, But Those Who Never Quit.”

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