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The narrow gate

The story is told about a policeman who apprehended a motorist for a traffic violation. “Your license says you should be wearing eyeglasses. Why are you not wearing them?” the policeman said. “I have contacts,” the motorist said. Whereupon the policeman said: “I don’t care who you know or who your contacts are. I am giving you a ticket!”

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 13, 22-30), Jesus tells His disciples that our entry to His kingdom will not be determined by who we know or by our affiliations. Our salvation is not a right. It is something we have to work for. The gate of heaven is a narrow gate. Let us make sure that we will fit and successfully pass through it by constantly letting go of our earthly baggage and bad habits.

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Sooner or later, we all will leave this world. Will the gate of heaven open for us, or will we face a closed and locked door? Will we see a “Welcome” sign, or a “Do Not Enter” sign? In everything we do, let us not forget our final end; let us try our very best to make it to our final destination.

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The other day, I made a sick call at a hospital in Tanauan, Batangas. A young man in his 40s is in a critical condition after falling from a rambutan tree among which branches he had been gathering its fruits. Without being derogatory to him, or to anyone else, for that matter, I could not help but ask myself: “Was it worth it, almost losing life and limb, in gathering rambutan?” Let us ask ourselves: What are we gathering, what are we searching for, in life? More money? More power? More honor? Are they worth our time, our health, our peace, our very soul?

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But then, gathering rambutan is better, far better, than gathering Pokemon Go monsters!

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You and I have experienced being charged by an airline for excess baggage, and the regrets that come with it. If only we learned to let go, and to not hold on to things that are really unimportant. Often, we find a way, and get away with it. But in our final journey, in the final reckoning, there will no longer be remedies or considerations. We will carry nothing with us when we leave this world. Nothing. Only the love and the faith that we have lived and shared.

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The Lord assures us today of fair play. Everyone has a chance, and everyone is welcome. There are no privileged people or greater gods among us. It is very consoling to know that God doesn’t play favorites. God is not exclusive but inclusive, and that includes you and me.

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“For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Rather than fear, these words of our Lord should give us hope and determination to push on with our journey to God’s heart. Let us continue to take the road of prayer, humility, kindness and joy. We’ll get there!

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Most Reverend Salvador Q. Quizon, DD, STL, JCD, auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Lipa, has gone ahead at the age of 91. We can never quantify the good things he did in his lifetime. Aside from being fatherly and prayerful, he is remembered by Fr. Nonie Dolor as a gentle, humble, and welcoming person.  Indeed, what will people remember about us after we are gone? The rich, the powerful, and the beautiful are soon forgotten. The good, the kind, and the humble are never gone.

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Fr. Primo Garcia of the diocese of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, has also gone ahead at the age of 70. God was with this brother priest and cousin of mine in his prime, as he rode on the wings of strength, power and popularity. But God was more with him when he suffered a stroke 16 years ago. God made His presence real and personal in his poverty, helplessness and loneliness. When we encounter trials of any kind, God is just making sure that we will fit through the narrow gate.

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Ireneo “Steve” Villarosa, former president of the XVD (the association of ex-SVDs), has also gone ahead at the age of 71. Steve was always ready to help people in whatever capacity. I am glad I was able to talk with him last week, and to thank him for what he and his wife had religiously done every day—posting in their Facebook page the profiles and whereabouts of SVD birthday celebrants, as well as stories of saints for each day. Steve laughed when I pointed out to him that he was doing something as an XVD, which we SVDs hardly do among ourselves. Thank you, Steve!

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Aug. 22 is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Sharing with you this prayer which I learned as a young seminarian: “Our Queen, our Mother, remember that we are your very own. Defend and protect us as your personal possession. Amen.”

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Whenever we experience stress and pressures, let us pause and pray this prayer of Blessed Mother Teresa: “Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.” Amen!

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help us to live in such a way that we will be able to fit into the narrow gate of Heaven. Amen.

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