I have been a priest for almost three years now and I feel that I have been unnecessarily worn out. They started giving me responsibilities which have direct bearing on the community since I was a third year high school seminarian. That was about 15 years ago and for that long I have been running around trying to cater to problems other than my own. I have to answer to so many expectations and have to work out beyond the limit to meet them. I was not just a law abiding person, I was diligently and unremittingly so to the point that duty became an obsession I could not and would not dare to escape from. An entry in a journal I kept in my high school days criticize persistently the seeming laxity of my peers in their love for duty. I wrote justifying myself that “when I chose to enter this place (seminary) I have embraced it with its demands . . . it’s sort of a packaged-deal . . . and I must not complain . . . .” You may think that this is something coming out straight from the Roman Martyrology or a book of saints. But this is not so if you consider what I have been through because of such obsessions.
During those years I have never felt so tired, exhausted, and worn out running after those “should dos” and “must dos”. When failures came, and they were many, I became desperate, afraid, bothered and guilt ridden. I never complained when I was callously stepped over, at least not publicly. I was long-suffering and seemingly humble, but deep inside I was bitter and hateful because I have to do what I was suppose to do even if I was no longer capable of doing so. I faked it out, always pretending to be what I am not and what I don’t feel. I have always been running after what people might think of me, expect of me, and want from me. In the end pure exhaustion took its toll. One day it just dawned on me that I could not live for the next ten years with this kind of predisposition.
What made me think things over was a retreat given to us two years ago. At a time when all these things were draining my energy, the words, “you are the sons and daughters of the resurrection” suddenly hit me. I am indeed the son of the resurrection, unchained and unfettered. The resurrection of Jesus has given me the chance to break free from the gallows that bound my spirit. It dawned on me that I have the right to say no. I have the right to complain. That what people think about me is none of my business. I may fail but I am not a failure. I quit “shoulding” myself and run after them for whatever they’re worth. I put myself first because I can’t be anything for anybody else unless I take care of myself. After all I am the son of the resurrection. I am empowered by the resurrection of Christ. I am free!
Freedom is the special fruit of the resurrection of Jesus - freedom from the chains that bind us - sin and its fruit which is death with its different manifestations in our lives. We have entitled this issue “Breaking free” because it contains stories of people who tried to break free and did broke free from the chains that bound them. We are an easter people - unshackled, empowered and free. We have all the capacity to break free for God. Thanks to Jesus!