While a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote a carefully crafted personal letter to Philemon, a fellow Christian and owner of an enslaved person named Onesimus, who had stolen from Philemon and run away. In Rome, Onesimus came under Paul’s ministry and accepted Christ, and he was now willing to return to Philemon. That's why Paul wrote this appeal for Philemon to welcome Onesimus as a Christian brother.

Paul presents in these twenty-one verses a powerful, counter-cultural message of forgiveness and reconciliation. It was vital for his friend Philemon and is essential for us as well. Paul took a position radically revolutionary for his time by asking his brother-in-the-Lord to receive Onesimus not as a slave but as a fellow believer. Paul saw how unity in the body of Christ cuts across worldly position, occupation, social or economic status, and nationality.

We have been called to this same unity as siblings in Christ. The evil of slavery still exists in many parts of the world because we do not see one another as siblings in Christ. Divisions and prejudices are everywhere—even within our churches and families. Too often we separate ourselves from others simply because of political platforms, racial identity, religious and educational background, or social hierarchies. And each instance of division saddens the Lord a little bit more.

Paul implored Philemon to see Onesimus as a brother in Christ; we too need to see one another as siblings in Christ and children of God. Jesus’ death and resurrection reconciled us to God and made it possible for us to be united as one body.

Forgiveness, reconciliation, and social transformation are at the heart of the Christian message.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Luke 14:25-33

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Leccionario Semanal
August 29–September 4, 2022
Resumen de la Escritura

Jeremiah brings another warning of impending judgment. If the people will not turn to the Lord, God will break the nation and reshape it, just as a potter breaks down and reshapes clay on a wheel. The psalmist praises God for God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Even from the moment of conception, God knows us and has a plan for our lives. Philemon is often overlooked, but it packs a punch. A text that some used in the past to justify slavery teaches a very different message. Paul warns Philemon not to enslave Onesimus again but to receive him back as a brother. Secular power structures have no place in God’s kingdom. In Luke, Jesus uses striking examples to teach us that the life of faith cannot be lived well with half-hearted commitment.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. As clay, how can you better respond to the Potter’s guiding hand?
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. God knows you better than you know yourself, yet God has given you the ability to make your own decisions. How do you respond to God?
Read Philemon 1-21. How do you honor the full humanity of those who serve you through their work?
Read Luke 14:25-33. What does it mean for you to take up the cross in your life?

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