Preparing for Sunday...
God grant me the words and wisdom to hear your Word and preach it to your people. That they may be free, and know they are beloved by God, and to share that freedom with others. Liberate us Lord to teach and hear and live your message. May we all be free. In Christ. Amen.
Paul asks Philemon to look on Onesimus in a new way: as a brother in Christ; not as a subject of a dominant “power over” social order, with its economic and political dependence on unequal relationships.
In the kingdom of God we are all sinners. Philemon and and we are all including Onesimus beloved children of one Father.
Welcome him as a brother (and send him back to me) rather than reclaiming a runaway, or judging him as a renegade. [...or if you sent him freely, simply keeping him for your own purposes]
It seems to me that part of what the Gospel is about, part of what Paul seeks to achieve with Philemon, is to create [is the realization of] a new context in which the new relationship can emerge.
Once Philemon looks without blinders - looks with different eyes, Gospel eyes - he will begin to perceive in Onesimus his brother, not a run slave found out and fetched back.
In such a way such agencies as World Concern seek to alleviate poverty and to eradicate human trafficking, one of the slaveries (and slave trades) of our own day, by transforming a village (in this case in Laos) from a sink of poverty, lack of education, excess of disease, dearth of employment, without hope or prospects locally for the young to work to benefit their families, to a place where there is work, health, schooling, and the possibility of freedom from the entrapment by the up-and-down dominance system of relationships that Jesus so long ago and through his followers right now seeks to overcome.
Where else in the world today do we see need to release others - our brothers - from bondage?
In our personal relationships, are we carrying resentment into holding something over someone?
In our work, do we treat employees, customers, co-workers, bosses, as seeing them first as the beloved brothers and sisters they are?
In our social and political relationships, do we work for freedom, not just freedom from, but freedom to - freedom that includes a developing confidence in a hopeful future for one's self, one's family, and all the children of God?