Have mercy, O Lord

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Have mercy, O Lord
St. Onesimus†

In the gospel today, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray by teaching them his own prayer, the Our Father. He then affirms the call for mercy that is the part about forgiveness.††
The story of todayís saint is a most striking example of the call for mercy.††† St Paul met a slave, Onesimus, when Paul was in prison and, by Paulís influence, Onesimus was converted.† Onesimus had run away from his owner, Philemon, who was a friend of Paulís and a convert to Christianity.† Paul encourages Onesimus to return to his owner and then he writes a letter of Philemon to receive Onesimus back but to receive him as a member of the Christian family and not as a slave.† He said:

†I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this is perhaps why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, as a beloved brotheróespecially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. Paul of Tarsus to Philemon, Epistle to Philemon

When we read this with the mind of a slave-owner 2000 years ago, it shows how mind boggling Christianity must have been to the people in those times.† However, in our culture there are many new kinds of slavery, I invite you to offer the communion antiphon today in the name of all those who are enslaved in any way today.

When I called, the God of justice gave me answer;† from anguish you released me;† have mercy, O Lord, and hear my prayer!

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