Philemon...Slave-owner or Brother in Christ?
St. Paul wrote a letter to Philemon. It is less than a page long. It comes after St. Paul’s letters to Titus and before the Letter to the Hebrews. Try to find it in your Bible. We recently heard a portion of this letter at weekend mass.
Philemon led the local church, organized by St. Paul in Colosae. Philemon had a household slave named Onesimus, who ran away. Where did he run? To St. Paul who was under ‘house arrest’ elsewhere. Onesimus knew Paul from his vists to Philemon.
After escaping and spending time with Paul, Onesimus became a Christian. Then St. Paul sent Onesimus, along with the letter, back to Philemon. In the letter Paul asks Philemon to see Onesimus in a new way…no longer as a slave but as a brother in Christ.
‘See people in a new way’. I thought about my family. It never occurred to me to see my parents and extended family as brothers and sisters in Christ. That lens changes how I see and love them.