(Homily during the 117th Anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service Commission, Puerto Princesa City Coliseum, September 4, 2017)
Your theme for this year’s celebration of the Philippine Civil Service capsulizes the call and challenge of our time – “Tugon sa Hamon ng Pababago: Malasakit ng Lingkod Bayani”. Sa totoo lang, this theme is not only loaded but super heavily loaded. While it is truly meaningful and beautiful, but I think we need a retreat-seminar to tackle this. On the other hand, let us just underline the word – “lingkod”. After all, service is the very reason of your existence as kawani ng pamahalaan.
You always say, “At your service” or “Ang inyong abang lingkod.” Ang naglilingkod ay nagmamalasakit. Ang paglilingkod ay gawaing bayanihan. Ang lingkod ay tunay na kawani ng tungo sa pagbabago.
The word service is noteworthy. It is forgets the self, it is towards others. It gains nothing while it provides for another. It earns in no way yet it enriches a neighbor. It is never narcissistic. Kaya tama lang na ang mga kawani ng gobyerno ay nasasakop sa katagang ito – civil service.
Wok is the necessary agent of service. John Paul II says that work in expresses our human dignity (Larborem Exercens). When we do work we become like God for we participate in His work. We become his co-workers, his collaborators. Further, work logically becomes an obligation. Being lazy and idle is seen as dishonorable. That is why in Filipino we call every good work as “marangal na trabaho.” Hence, we could say that walang trabaho is kawalan ng dangal. What is more, the Bible says, “He does not work should not eat.” Work then turns out to be as a matter of survival. Hence, work we must. We should work if only for the sake of survival and our identity.
Obviously, the indispensable outcome of every work is fatigue. Every worker gets tired in no time. In our case perhaps, at once we had already uttered, “Nakakapagod din ang maglingkod.” Tiredness, like love, is also multi-splendored – burned out, stressed-out, drained, exhausted, and the like. Even boredom and sleepiness are frontage to being tired.
Yesterday was Sunday. It was working day for us priests. I noticed at the close of day that I was also dead tired. I have to admit it that I did get tired. But a fellow-priest remarked in a jest, “Hindi naman ata pagod yan. Katandaan na ata yan!” Then and there, I had thought that it could true indeed. We easily get tired through time. Reality bites with age. Dati naman ganito rin karami ang work and appointment pero parang may energy pa rin. Pero ngayon iba na. Mabilis nang hinihingal. I guess, we have to admit it too. Hindi lang talaga kalabaw ang tumatanda, kundi ganun din ang mga kawani ng pamahalaan. May rayuma na, may gout pa, maaga pa inaantok na, etc.
Yet, in today’s Gospel providentially, it also talks of the works of Jesus, His mission (Lk. 4:16-30). We find Jesus in the synagogue working. We can point to one cause of tiredness for Jesus – his detractors. “Is this not the son of Joseph?”. His townmates were unbelieving of Him. Perhaps, they were insecure that somebody of their kind could go that far. Jesus said, “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Moreover, the people “were filled with fury.” They drove Jesus out of the town and hurl him down.
Like Jesus, do you also have detractors in your workplace? If you do not have, I think you are not becoming like Jesus. I guess, no one is exempted. Kung Hesus nga ay merong detractors, tayo pa kaya na hindi naman talaga tayo kabaitan?
Detractors are more tiresome than loads of work. They consume or drain our energies quicker than the toll of ageing. In fact, even if we do not wok or we have not stared working yet, we already get tired at the thought of our detractors. Alam nyo po yun, araw araw na pumapasok ka sa office, papasok ka pa lang sa pinto ng office ay napagod ka na? Kasi nakikita mo agad anino ng detractors mo. Detractors come in different masks too. They are what we call as bashers, haters, bitter, among others. And, we do not only call this as nakakapagod but nakakastress. But I tell you, mas okay na lang na ikaw ang na stress kesa naman ikaw ang nakaka-stress.
We have to identify who our detractors are. They are the people who could not accept the truth. The truth that you are brighter. The truth that you can do things better. The truth that you are friendlier and all. As such, they also could not accept the truth about themselves. And so, they pull you down. They fabricate stories about you. They do not see anything okay in you.
Of course, we do not want to remain in the languish of just being tired and stressed. We have to conquer it. We have to overcome it. We have to regain and recharge for our energy and sanity at that.
Again, we turn over to the Gospel. Jesus exclaims, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” We underline spirit. I guess, this is the secret and key to one’s stamina and perseverance in working. When there is no spirit, there is no fire. Fire in the belly, as the cliche goes. It means to go on and fight with energy and determination.
Jokingly when we somebody looking floppy and lousy we say, “Para kang wala sa espiritu.” Or, when one is rather bad-tempered we say, “Anong Espiritu ang sumapi sa yo?” With these, it is rather beyond question that it is the spirit that gives life. That inspires. That makes us determined. It is the spirt that beats tiredness. It is the spirit that overpowers fatigue and burn out.
Hence, do we also ask first the Spirit before we start working in the office? In other words, do care to pray first? Does the Spirit of God have a place in our workplace? Or even at home, does God have a place? Is there such a thing as prayer life in the family circles? I know of some people who keeps on going overtime because they find the family setting as very tiresome and stressful. Not all those who are fond of overtime are actually masipag, minsan may tinatakasan lang na isyu yan sa pamilya.
Let us keep this in mind, the key to staying active and inspired at work and in life is “the spirit of the Lord”. I think we should repeat this often as a mantra while at work – “the spirit of the Lord is upon me.” A lot of time and many times during the day.
Another aspect of work that we find in the Gospel today is fulfillment. “.. this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” The reward of a good work is the sense of fulfillment. The yardstick of a successful endeavor is about you being fulfilled. The touchstone that you are actually doing well in your office is you look at what you have done as fulfilling. Other than that, without sense of fulfillment, you are only wasting time in the workplace. Without feeling fulfilled, you are just tiring yourself. Imaginably, you may have high salary in a high position but you are not happy at all without this sense of fulfillment.
Fulfillment is a gift from God. It is from God because where you are now is on account of His hands guiding you. Possibly, baka hindi mo rin naisip noon na dyan ka pala mapadpad sa trabaho mo ngayon. O kaya, hindi mo rin akalain na ang asawa mo ngayon ay sya pala ang mamamakatuluyan mo. How do you explain that but only because by the hand of God. And when we allow the hand of God to lead us that is what you call fulfillment. Each one has a mission from God to be accomplished. When we are faithful to that mission, feeling fulfilled is our greatest reward in work and in life.
May we all continue working but with the spirit of Lord now within us. May the reward of fulfillment be upon us. AMEN.