No Longer A Slave, A Brother, Beloved
At Sacred Heart I proclaimed this week’s second reading from the letter of Saint Paul to Philemon, Philemon 9-10, 12-17. Many times I will proclaim a reading in full, forceful style waking up any in the back benches who have dozed off. But this reading required a different style.
“I, Paul, an old man,…”
It necessitated a subdued, gentle demeanor. And so it went through the entire reading. Especially during the highlight:
“no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother
beloved especially to me, but even more to you,
as a man and in the Lord.”
Paul is asking Philemon to accept Onesimus back as a free and equal man because as he has come to Christ so has he came to be one in the same with all humanity. Here we see the true essence of Christianity. We are all brothers and sisters under Christ. Inequality, class structure and slavery do not fit in with Christ’s message. Paul saw this 2000 years ago. Why have we had such trouble seeing it down through the ages?
“So if you regard me as a partner,
Welcome him, as you would me.”