Thursday, November 15, 2012

Talk about a challenge!

     In the letter of Paul to Philemon found in today's first reading we are presented with an interesting challenge.  Philemon was a disciple of Paul possibly from Colosae, and a slave owner.  Paul, at this point in time was under arrest in Rome or Caesarea.  During his imprisonment he encounters a young man named Onesimus, a run away slave of Philemon.  This young man ministers to Paul, and Paul leads him to Christ through baptism.  Paul sees him as a son in Christ, and Onesimus sees Paul as a spiritual father.  But a further reconciliation is required.

     Now comes the challenge, for both Onesimus and Philemon.  Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon because there was a debt owed, but also because Paul wanted to challenge Philemon to grow in faith, to see his former slave not as his property but rather accepted with the respect of a brother, to have the debt paid for this soul by Paul himself in his role as spiritual father to Philemon as well as Onesimus, and because "the" debt was already paid by Christ.  This relationship would be transformed into that of brothers in Christ rather than owner and slave.  Paul challenges Onesimus to be brave and forgiving of his former master.  Paul challenges Philemon to be forgiving and accepting not of a returning slave but of a brother in Christ.

     We do not get an update ... however, I am sure that the love of Paul for these two men and the challenge that he presented them led them to embraced as brothers and to rejoice in the joy of the Lord.   There is no longer slave or free ... all are one in Christ.

     This afternnon I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at our school - Queen of Angels - at the invitation of the Student Council.  The priests involved were invited to join with the Principal and the Council officers for an early turkey dinner in the cafeteria.  It was enjoyable and very tasty.  I thank Tori and Aslan (who was at the dentist) who welcomed us and shared lunch. They are co-chairs of the Council.
     Tonight is "Light Up Night" in downtown Irwin (the local community), and many of our kids are involved in singing as well as riding the Kennywood Trolley in the parade.  Loooking forward to it.

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