HomeCommentaryBALIK-TANAW: Freedom from Fear

BALIK-TANAW: Freedom from Fear

It is courageous to recognize that we are afraid. Great people – heroes, and martyrs alike,  and those who are willing to give their lives for the sake of others are people who acknowledge their own fears and anxieties.

Upon the death of Jesus, his disciples were together collectively feeling the chilling effect of the state/empire terror. Their leader was slapped with trumped-up charges, arrested, humiliated before the public, and meted with capital punishment (death penalty) by hanging on the cross.

The once leader who healed the sick, and preached radically about God’s Kingdom, who saved the woman from stoning to death, who exalted the humble and meek, who was in the company of the dirty, marginalized, and outcasts is now dead.

He, the champion of the poor who critically engaged the ruling system and never showed any favorable, patronizing attachment to the hypocrites and powerful is now gone. His disciples must be weary and anxious. They could be the next victim of injustice. If the intention of the empire is to eliminate its perceived enemy, it would want to “get them all.”

The disciples were afraid. They could not deny their close association with him. It was dangerous then to be identified with Jesus. The security officers must have done a dossier of them and their whereabouts. Besides, the state must have suspected them that they were hiding the body of Jesus.

They were hiding, as a way to handle their own fear. The fear is borne out of the reality that they could be apprehended and attacked by state agents at any time. They would rather not expose their vulnerability. They still have a mission to carry on. In the meantime taking a side step was a wise decision.

However, fear did not immobilize them. The Spirit – the Life-giving power, the resurrection had given them hope to overcome their fear. The fear was replaced by PEACE. They received the SPIRT (BREATH) – the power that will transcend their worries and anxieties, which came upon them. They were not forever locked down by fear and side-stepped. The “retreat” was just temporary, and they went ahead with the work and the mission. Perhaps they were still afraid. The enemy must have constantly watched their moves. The church was founded by faithful disciples who were given the power of the Spirit and the message of resurrection to carry on what was entrusted to them.

- Newsletter -

Today we still have prophets and missionaries who, in the midst of fear and terror of the empire, are steadfast in their calling. The church, the movement of prophets and believers of God’s Kingdom is a testimony that the teaching of the righteous, the love of humanity and genuine interest to serve the people will never die. It is like the message of the hymn by Frederick William Faber,1849:

“Faith of our fathers (ancestors)! living still

In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword.

O how our hearts beat high with joy

Whenever we hear that glorious word!

Faith of our fathers (ancestors), holy faith!

We will be true to thee till death.”

Like the disciples of Jesus, we feel how dangerous it is to transform our grief and anger into prophetic action through the power of the Spirit. There will be an assurance of PEACE in our hearts. In the name of those who suffer from bigotry, discrimination, and exploitation, the Spirit will empower us to pursue the cause of overcoming evil within the systems of our society. The inspiration of the life, work, ministry, and mission of Jesus will be the LIGHT that will guide us. Those who went ahead of us who dared and risked their lives for the sake of others will be our inspiration to carry on. They shall live in our hearts and in our daily prophetic and pastoral work.

I am in awe of those who were persecuted, abducted, tortured, imprisoned, and threatened but can still work for what they believe in as they face dangers, toils, and snares.  There were political prisoners who, after their release continued their work – back to the communities, to the advocacies, to serving the poor, to defending human rights, and in pursuing justice and peace, knowing well that the agents of the state are still watching them, and anytime laws can be weaponized against them.  

Neri Colmenares was once arrested, jailed, and tortured during Martial Law of Marocs, Sr. He was 18 years old then. He was very active in religious organizations like the Student Christian Movement (SCM) and the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines (SCAP). He had just been elected as a National Council member of the SCAP when he was arrested. He strongly believed that the church’s teaching of loving our neighbors is compatible with working for social justice. During his detention, his favorite day would be Sunday. Sundays were the visiting days of church people where they brought food, greeting cards from all over the country, and even people from other countries. He was so amazed by the spiritual connection between those imprisoned and those outside detention who prayed and worked for their release. Upon his freedom, he promised himself that he would dedicate his life to serving others. He had never been unafraid. But his spirit of courage, the spirit of solidarity, and the solid vision to serve the people make him and many human rights defenders carry on the work.

Breathe on me, Breath of God

As we are mourning and grieving

The deaths of many people–

Young, old, and vulnerable ones.

Breathe on me, Breath of God

When we are anxious and scared

Breathe on me, Breath of God

When we are angry and enraged

With a hostile policy that is anti-poor,

Leading the lowly into greater vulnerability.

Breathe on me, Breath of God

As we repent for our insensitivity

And the privilege of having more

That led us to blend thoughts and perceptions

In a discourse of resilience and obedience to laws,

Now weaponized against our own people.

Awaken us to our connivance

with anti-poor policies.

Help us to see that

We benefit because we have means,

We are secure and privileged

Raise our awareness that

The attacks against the  poor in the  communities

Means suffering, hunger, and tears,

Even as we preach sacrifice for the benefit of all.

Breathe on me, Breath of God

As we pray for those who care for the sick and dying

Release us from ignorance and myths

that may proclaim what is factual and true.

Breathe on me, Breath of God—

Spirit, Ruah, She Who Hovers Over,


Movement like the Wind

That cannot be locked down.


Gospel reflection of Dss . Norma P. Dollaga,  KASIMBAYAN for Pentecost Sunday

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR). The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action.

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