Wednesday, November 09, 2016

No Longer Slave but Brother

By Beth DeCristofaro

Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. (Philemon 1:15-16)

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you. (Luke 17:20-21)

Jesus, use my hands, use my heart, use my skills, use my frailties to set myself free from the bondage of sin and to help in building your Kingdom:
Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them,
Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed,
who gives bread to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free; the LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked. (Psalm 146: 6-9)

God introduced himself and made a covenant with mankind yet history is fraught with upheavals and chaos.  Jesus lived at a time of brutal oppression.  St Leo the Great was witness to the beginning of the barbarian invasions that brought down Roman civilization.  Jesus taught the temple leaders that in his person God’s Kingdom was arriving, was already upon them, and that we humans have a role in it.  Paul urged the people to accept the slave Onesimus as a Christian brother which was an action of the Kingdom.  Not to punish a slave overturned conventions – accepted even by early Christians – of the day.  A slave is a brother!  God’s Kingdom is one of Love in Action.

Some four hundred years later St Leo called the Council of Chalcedon and promulgated the theology of Christ’s dual nature, human and divine.  “It is one and the same Son of God who exists in both natures, taking what is ours to Himself without losing what is His own.”  (St Leo the Great) This teaching not only ended bitter debates within the church but also forms our understanding of Jesus to this day.  Today the world remains wracked with cruelties and acrimonious argument but we still have a role in building a Kingdom which becomes palpable and visible in the body of the church and the activities of peoples.  

Keep intentional the Building of the Kingdom today.  Your prayer time, your acts of discipleship, your civic duties, even the myriad small tasks of the day can be Love in Action.  Be joyful, be cognizant and be free to be brother / sister of the Lord.

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