[COLUMN] Don’t give up, keep going!

“What’s the secret to happiness?” a friend of mine asked his Japanese friend, who is a professor of Japanese literature in Hawaii. “Ganbatte kudasai,” the professor answered, adding, “It means ‘please persevere’.”

Upon hearing this insight from the Japanese professor, I realized how much sense it made. Perseverance, or not giving up, is the key to happiness.

When I researched the Japanese expression “Ganbatte kudasai” on the internet, I discovered that “Ganbatte” is a popular phrase that means “Do your best,” “Do not give up,” “Hang in there,” or “Keep going.” “Kudasai” means “please,” a term frequently used to convey politeness, which is an essential element in Japanese culture.

Ganbatte” is a word deeply cherished by the Japanese people because it encapsulates the idea of never surrendering, no matter how difficult the challenges may be. It embodies the spirit of perseverance that is ingrained in almost every person in Japan from birth until their last breath.

Could it be that this Sunday’s (September 10) Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20) also conveys the spirit of perseverance when it comes to conflict resolution and the pursuit of reconciliation with others? Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson about perseverance in our efforts to achieve peace and harmony in our personal lives, families, and communities.

In this Gospel passage, Jesus advises us on how to address and resolve conflicts with others. If someone wrongs you, go and talk to them privately. If they listen and understand, you have achieved reconciliation. If not, take one or two witnesses with you to establish the facts. If they still refuse to listen, involve the larger community. And if they persist in their refusal, treat them as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Implicit in this Gospel passage is the willingness and ability to persevere in resolving conflicts with individuals and doing everything possible to attain peace and reconciliation. In our pursuit of “loosing and binding,” perseverance is an essential quality we need to uphold.

In the spirit of the Gospel, perseverance entails placing Christ at the center of every human encounter, particularly when resolving conflicts. For Jesus accompanies and strengthens us as we strive to bring peace into our lives. This was emphasized by Pope Francis in his homily on Monday, September 4, 2023:

“Let us not forget that journeying together and recognizing our communion with one another in the Holy Spirit requires a change, a growth that can only occur through an intimate encounter with God. This encounter transforms our will and even our emotions. Then, we learn to see others not only through our own eyes and emotions, but through the perspective of Jesus Christ. Their friends become our friends as well.”

Sending warm blessings to all!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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