OF FREEDOM AND FATHERS

Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva

It was June 12, 1898. With the reading of the Acta de la proclamacion de independencia del pueblo Filipino or the Act of the Declaration of Independence in Kawit, Cavite, the Philippines was proclaimed a free nation and, 118 years since, we still commemorate that grand moment in our history every month of June. With that, let me greet you this month a glorious and victorious Independence Day!

Coincidentally, it is also on the 3rd Sunday of this month, that we celebrate Father’s Day. So to fathers, like myself, a blessed and happy Father’s Day!

With these two celebrations marking the month of June, it is but apt that we declare this a month of honor. Because the independence we freely enjoy today came with a high price tag—a price tag our fathers willingly paid for.

In honor of our forefathers. Who valiantly fought, and willingly died, for our country’s freedom. From Lapu-lapu to Andres Bonifacio to Jose Rizal; and, even, to every single Filipino whose life was voluntarily given up for this nation… we honor them. For theirs is the blood offering that purged our land from all oppressions—sacrificially yet gladly, given in the name of liberty, for the future of this land… for us.

In a haunting scene in his novel, Noli Me Tangere, Rizal could have spoken on behalf of all of them, through the words of a dying man: “I die without seeing dawn’s light shining on my country… You, who will see it, welcome it for me… Don’t forget those who fell during the nighttime (emphasis added).”

In honor of our earthly fathers. They whose hard work and selfless toil brought us to better living, allowing us access to greater freedom—be that physically, financially, spiritually, and others.

Just like how a mother’s love is used by the Scriptures to describe how God loves, so is a father’s. Just as God is compassionate, a father is (Psalm 103:13). Just as God protects and cares for His children, a father does (Deuteronomy 1:31). Indeed, for being God’s extension of His steadfast love, abounding provision, courageous strength, and gentle discipline, our earthly fathers deserve nothing but our highest gratitude.

In honor of our church fathers. Our freedom of worship, faith expressions, doctrines, and, even, our Christian disciplines… God granted these to humanity through them.

Testimonies of personal encounters, literary pieces, and written and oral traditions, among others, have survived the tests of time and persecutions that characterized the early Church age. During the time when men were beaten, tortured, and killed for their faith, God’s faithful disciples never wavered. Their open wounds, battered figures, and slain bodies have served as living testaments to the present church—that the faith we boldly profess, and the God we wholeheartedly serve, is indeed worthy of our entire being.

Truly, as once was said by the renowned author, Tertullian: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

And lastly, in honor of our Heavenly Father. Who, in His great love for the sinful humanity, sent His one and only Son into the world to save all of us. To die for us… that we might live through him (1 John 4:9).

This one act driven by the Father’s love freed us all from the grips of Satan. But more than that, it has given us holistic salvation, which, taken from the original context of the Greek word “diasozo” (through and through), means a life saved here and thereafter. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross did not only—albeit ultimately—ransom us from the pits of hell. It, too, guarantees us a satisfying life while we are still here on earth.

So, whoever you are, if you are in need of any kind of freedom in your life, come to our Father. In complete surrender, allow His love to permeate every aspect of your life, and see how He can transform even your darkest moments into a liberating experience.

In the declaration made at the Cross of Calvary, we have all been liberated—from sin, sickness, scarcity, and all kinds of prison cells, assuring us of a life that is truly life here and thereafter. For He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

And His kind of freedom is sealed by a declaration… as the Son, in obedience to the Father, shouted: “It is finished!”

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