Responsibility Sets us Free10.05.10
Aired on May 10, 2010
Narration by Ptr. RG Foncardas
RESPONSIBILITY SETS US FREE
“No one lives for one’s self alone; no one dies for one’s self alone.” These words, in Tagalog, begin a hymn sung by Christians of many traditions in the Philippines about our responsibility for others. This comes to mind today, Election Day as many of us make a choice for the country.
Today we make the case that responsibility sets us free, and that freedom without responsibility is not freedom at all.
What do we mean by responsibility in the first place? It is a sense that you and I are accountable for what we do. We are accountable to our conscience, which is our inner guide to conduct. We are accountable to our communities, from the neighborhood to the church and state. We are accountable to God above all, and we will, at the Judgment, have to answer for what we do.
The root of the word “responsibility” is the word “response”. It’s crucial here, because it means that ‘responsibility’ is ultimately a challenge to answer the other’s call. The other may be the poor and defenseless. The other may be a friend or stranger who needs our help. The other may be family, near or far. We answer to another, or, as a Jewish thinker of the 20th century put it, we answer for another.
What defines our freedom is not our ability to be liberated from constraints, but our willingness to be for something outside ourselves. Indeed, if we become responsible, we are liberated from selfishness, greed, and pride. We are free to serve others; we are free to give without counting the cost. We are free to help our nation grow from the darkness of the past into the light of a better future. We are free to improve our lives and the lives of others.
This type of growth does take time. But we can begin by becoming more aware of the choices we make. We may wish to ask, especially as we look back at election days in the past, how we have chosen our leaders. If we’ve been on the wrong track, we have a second chance. And even beyond elections, we can consider how to make responsible choices for our country’s future. That is the only way to work towards freedom for ourselves and for our country.
“If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord.” The ultimate guarantor of our freedom is our Lord, who answered for us, and thus set us free.
May we answer the call for our nation today and in the days to come.