By Peter Paul Marcelo, BCBP Pasay
This is my new battle cry, “Give me freedom!” With the overlapping personal activities, work, and community commitments that come my way, I often feel so burnt-out. All I want is freedom.
Quoting from my daughter during her last semestral break, she shouted, “At last! School is over! Freedom!” For the next succeeding days, she slept throughout the day, played with the computer, and watched her favorite movies.
Freedom – what a word. It is often equated with doing whatever we want. Freedom, for most, means being free from the constraints of regulations, from Dad and Mom who kept telling them what to do and how to do it. Students associate freedom to semestral break. For a time being, they are free from homework, projects and quizzes.
Convicts would perhaps explain it as something like when they are released from prison. He becomes a free man. Or a dog would be free if it is not on a leash. A Balloonist would explain it as when you release a balloon and it would be free to float up to the sky. Nothing would prevent it from doing so.
Then I have to constantly remind myself of the biblical concept of Freedom – the definition that is lodged in our Christian Tradition. The connection about freedom and truth is really very different from the contemporary concept of Freedom. Pope John Paul II makes a point that we, as human beings, have been created uniquely beyond anything else in the universe. We are created into the image of God. Hence, JP2 maintains that freedom is not the freedom from something, but freedom for something.
Though I could not recall the exact encyclical letter, JP2 mentioned that every person is both a being willed by God for itself, and at the same time, a being turned towards others. To be isolated from others is a form of imprisonment. Isolation is not being free. Isolation is being imprisoned by one’s own desire and choice.
God is ultimately free. In His exercise of freedom, He created us and He gave His only son to free us. Then for me to be free, I should be free to give of myself. Freedom means to become a self-donating human being. I cannot attain my full identity as human being except through the gift of self. In other words, those who obey the Laws of God out of fear are not free. But those who freely give and live according to the teachings of the Church are free even if it means making a sacrifice like what Jesus did. God sacrificed His son. This is total freedom.
Our modern version of Freedom is being free from all external things whereas the Christian notion of freedom is being free so that he can give himself, so that he might live the Kingdom of God that others maybe gifted for the Love of Jesus.
This is what it really comes down to. My battle cry of “Give me freedom!” is being fulfilled all along whenever I attend to the needs of my family, my community, and my work ahead of my own personal needs.