Archive for the ‘St. Onesimus’ Tag

Proper 18, Year C   Leave a comment

01605v

Above:  A Prospector and His Dog in Alaska, 1900-1930

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-01605

Image Source = Library of Congress

Packing and Unpacking for Discipleship

The Sunday Closest to September 7

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 8, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 18:1-11 and Psalm 139:105, 12-17

or 

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Psalm 1

then 

Philemon 1-21

Luke 14:25-33

The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for everAmen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-sixteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-of-confession-for-the-sixteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-sixteenth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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I used to think that Onesimus was a runaway slave.  Authority figures in church told me that he was.  Commentaries and notes in study Bibles told me that he was.  Then, one day, I read another perspective, which prompted me to reread the short epistle again.  And it turns out that nowhere does Paul indicate why Onesimus and Philemon were in separate cities.  And the Greek text of verse 16 translates as

as if a slave,

not

as though a slave.

So the text itself does not indicate that Onesimus was a slave, much less a fugitive.  These close readings of the actual text–not the imagined one–prove to be useful reminders of the importance of reading what the Bible says, not what one thinks it says.

The definition of Christian discipleship is following Jesus.  One must pack lightly for that journey, leaving much behind.  (A partial list follows.)  One must leave behind misunderstandings and false preconceptions.  One must leave behind hatred, violence, grudges, and unfounded fears, which bring out the worst in human behavior.  One must leave behind the desire to scapegoat.  Jesus became a scapegoat and a victim of violence, but the Romans still destroyed Jerusalem in time.  And God reversed death, the major consequence of the violence which killed our Lord.  We must leave behind willful disobedience to God.  I refer you, O reader, to the rest of Jeremiah 18; that text speaks of willful disobedience, not ignorant sinning.  We must also leave behind ignorant sinning, which is also destructive.

Instead, may we pack, among other things, love and respect for God and each other.  Recently I reread Ephesians, a fine epistle which makes clear that how we treat others matters very much to God.  That letter encourages putting up with each other’s weaknesses and  not grieving the Holy Spirit, not committing violence against each other.  (See Chapters 4 and 5.)  May we pack the Golden Rule.  May we pack kindness.  May we pack the willingness to sacrifice self for another.  May we pack the awareness that what we do and do not do affects others.  May we pack compassion.  Our task demands no less of us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF MIEP GIES, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID I, KING OF SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FOX, QUAKER FOUNDER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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Feast of St. Onesimus, Bishop and Martyr (February 11)   2 comments

Above:  St. Onesimus

Image in the Public Domain

Freedom in Christ

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The Lections for the Feast Day:

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Philemon 1-25

Mark 8:34-38

My Collect:

God of liberty, through St. Paul the Apostle you brought your servant St. Onesimus to spiritual and temporal freedom; liberate us, we pray, so that we may be equipped to serve you fully.  In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.  Amen.

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The brief Pauline epistle to Philemon is one of my favorite books of the New Testament.  St. Paul was in custody in Rome when Onesimus, a slave (according to nearly two thousand years of Biblical interpretation) of his good friend Philemon, arrived to visit the Apostle.  Onesimus had allegedly stolen from his master.  After some time, during which the Apostle converted Onesimus,  St. Paul sent him back to Philemon with a letter of recommendation, which, fortunately, we can still read today in the New Testament.  It is a personal letter and a masterpiece of positive manipulation.  “I could order you to take Onesimus back as if  a brother, not as if a slave, and to forgive him,” Paul wrote, “but I know that I do not have to this, for I know that you are a good  Christian man.”  That is my paraphrase of the essence of the epistle.

Philemon did take Onesimus back as if a brother, not as if a slave, and did forgive him.  Then Philemon sent Onesimus back to Paul in Rome.  Both Philemon and Onesimus became bishops and martyrs.  Philemon became Bishop of Colossae, where he and his wife died together.  And Onesimus served as Bishop of Byzantium (the position known today as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople) from 54 to 68, then as Bishop of Beroea (in Macedonia.)  He died circa 90 C.E., after prolonged tortures.

One final note:  There is a Greek pun in the Epistle to Philemon.  The name “Onesimus” means “useful.”  As The Jerusalem Bible renders verse 11, “He was of no use to you before, but he will be useful to you now, as he has been to me.”  (I like puns.)  Seriously though, Onesimus became quite useful to God.  May we be likewise, however God has called us to that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2010

THE FEAST OF ENMEGAHBOWH, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

Edited on November 11, 2011

Revised on November 30, 2016

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A Related Post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/week-of-proper-27-thursday-year-2/

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Posted June 12, 2010 by neatnik2009 in February 11, Saints of the Bible

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