1st Reading: Philemon 7-20 Reflection:
It appears that a slave belonging to Philemon has somehow escaped and ended up in the company of Paul. The slave’s name is Onesimus and he has become a Christian and is now helping Paul in his mission work.
Paul is in prison, old and facing death. He is sending Onesimus back to his master and is reminding Philemon, who is also a Christian, that he has a duty to treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ rather than a slave.
Paul goes further and says that he shall accept liability for anything owed by Onesimus to Philemon.
The Christian life changes relationships: there is no longer slave and master but brothers in Christ. We notice this most at the Mass where people of all classes sit together in prayer: there are no rich and poor, just sinners seeking God.
It is interesting how once we become aware that we are all children of God and under his guidance and protection then we can never see others in the same way again. If we are all prone to ignorance of God and his law as we were before we met Jesus then surely we have to make allowances for those people who have still not met God.
The changing of relationships is what marks out the Christian life. Those whom we know have resentment towards us, we can forgive, and this new understanding of life and God reflects in so many aspects of our lives.
When we can see, as Paul saw in the relationship of Philemon and Onesimus, that all people are equal and in need of God’s help, then we are on the right path towards peace in our heart with our neighbour.