Thursday, November 15, 2012

Philemon 7-20, Psalm 146:6-10, Luke 17:20:25


My Beloved,this is a most beautiful and touching letter written by St. Paul, Alter Christus to Philemon who is the owner of the slave Onesimus who ran away from his master and found refuge with St. Paul.  Once Onesimus received the Good News his life was transformed by the Christ of the Gospels and he received true freedom as a child of God. In You my Beloved all of us are free.  Philemon is also a Christian and a slave owner, which is a contradiction.  I cannot be a Christian and subject another person, equal in dignity to myself to slavery.  So St. Paul appeals to him in the name of the love that he bears for Philemon to accept his slave back home as a brother.  He appeals to him not to take Onesimus back because of the fact that he is indebted to Paul but simply because the one who asks him to do this loves him. 

My Beloved these verses from 7-20 can also be used as an allegory for our relationship. Yours with me.  I belong to the Church and there was a time I was a slave to sin.  I ran away from her much like the prodigal son and for a while I was wretched.  Then I had this amazing personal encounter with You and we forged a personal relationship.  You accepted my repentance and contrition and You embraced me as Your sister.  You lavished Your love on me, You bandaged my wounds, You healed and restored me.  You set me free to love You.  I chose freely of my own free will to do so.  Only such love has any meaning or value.

I owe You a debt of gratitude for all You have done for me and all You needed to do was to remind me of the irredeemable debt I owe You by demanding I love You in return for all You accomplished for me on the Cross.  But such a love is worthless in Your sight.  With the priceless gift of my free will I must choose to give You all of myself in love , that is the only kind of love that is pleasing and acceptable to You.

Here I am Lord, I belong to You.  I freely choose to love You all the days of my life.  Thank You for healing me and restoring me to the embrace of Holy Mother Church.

My Beloved, You have set me free from the slavery of sin.  You have restored my sight.  you have brought me back to walk in Your way which is the way of truth and life.  You have Your eye on the weakest, frailest and most vulnerable on earth and woe to those who cause them to sigh in sorrow let alone be responsible for their tears, their grief and their agony.

All who strive to cooperate in love with the grace that You make available everyday through prayer and the Sacraments find favor in Your sight and are greatly loved by You. You are God and You are King and we dwell in perfect happiness in You forever.

The Kingdom of God is formed in the hearts of men.  It is a process of conversion by which slowly but surely we are formed in Your image and likeness and we give You more and more autonomy over every area of our life.  As we learn to submit, yield, obey and commit our lives to You and to living the Good News, the Kingdom will become visible and apparent.  When the time comes, You will return and no one, no matter where he or she may be will be in doubt that it is indeed You who are returning in glory and majesty to claim Your Bride.

You never fail to remind us of the reality that there is no crown without first experiencing the cross and drinking the bitter gall from the cup of suffering.

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