27 June 2006. Tuesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 7, 13 & 14: The Narrow Gate

The excitement of life lies in its choices. In everything we do, we are always confronted with a choice. We might dilly-dally, evade making a choice, but we know that the world does not wait for our decisions, and when we think we are ready, it is too late. And thus, we live a life of inevitable choosing. The people of the bible know this by heart. Moses said, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil… choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30, 15-20). Joshua, when laying the leadership foundation of Israel, said, “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24, 15). I have three points for reflection.

The Hard vs the Easy Way. Many of us want greatness the easy way. But there is no easy way to greatness; it is always a product of hard earned work. Henry David Thoreau said, “All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one... characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.Emily Dickinson,Luck is not chance, it's toil; fortune's expensive smile is earned.” Moreover, even if a thing is done with the appearance of ease, it always comes with the price of sweat and toil. The greatest pianist has spent hours practicing; the basketball rookie has given up precious time in disciplined play in court. Nothing is achieved without discipline. Discipline is hard. Many of us have innate talents, but these talents need to be developed and honed. Paracelsus said, “For it is not God's design that the remedies should exist for us, ready-made, boiled and salted, but that we should boil them ourselves, and it pleases Him that we boil them and learn in the process, that we train ourselves in this art and are not idle on earth, but labor in daily toil.”

The Long vs the Short Way. It is rare that something may come out perfectly in a lightning flash. Virgil’s Aenied took ten years of Virgil’s life. The opening simple sentence in Plato’s Republic took 13 different versions: “I went down to the Piraeus yesterday with Glaucon, the son of Ariston, that I might offer up prayer to the goddess.” Thomas Gray’s Elegy written in a Country Courtyard began in the summer of 1742, and circulated in June 12, 1750.


Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth

A Youth, to Fortune and to Fame unknown;

Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,

And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;

Heaven did a recompense as largely send:

He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,

He gain'd from Heaven, 'twas all he wish'd, a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,

(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)

The bosom of his Father and his God.

Fr. Fruto Ramirez SJ, composer of liturgical songs such as Purihin ang Panginoon and Si Kristo ay Gunitain, told me that when he composes a song, he would keep it for sometime, like wine aging in vats, and hear it again. If he likes it, it is probably a good song; if not, it goes to the wastebasket. No one does a masterpiece in 30 seconds.

Finally, something to remember: the easy and short way is always attractive and inviting at the moment, and the hard and long way looks intimidating. However, it is always good to see life not in the perspective of the present and immediate, but in the perspective of eternity. If you want to influence and inspire people, the road is incremental, long and hard. This is, in itself, the choice of the brave and honorable. Grover Cleveland said, “Honor lies in honest toil.

*my mom. She made a lot of choices for us.

No comments: