Sunday Readings

The power of Christ's liberation. 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Andrea Mardegan comments on the readings for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time and Luis Herrera offers a short video homily. 

Andrea Mardegan-August 31, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes

Photo: King Solomon, by Alonso Hipólito

Solomon asks God for the gift of wisdom to be a just king and to judge according to God's will. He asks: "What man can know the will of God? Who can guess what the Lord wills?".

Revelation contains many elements to know what the Lord wants, and the Church offers many reflections and examples to follow, but there are times when this is not enough. Let us therefore ask God for wisdom, the gift of the Spirit to discern what to do or what path to take, what decision to make.

The letter to Philemon is surprising: a note of recommendation to a friend is recognized as the inspired word of God and sent to the whole Church forever.

Onesimus, Philemon's slave, who stayed with Paul to help him in his imprisonment, was brought to faith by him: he calls him "my son". The decision to send him back to Philemon, asking him to treat him no longer as a slave but as a brother in the Lord, is made by Paul in the wisdom and spirit of God.

He could keep him with him to avoid uncertainty, but he returns him to his master, taking the risk that Philemon will not understand his exhortation and will continue to consider him a slave.

"I would have liked to have had him with me to assist me in your place, now that I am chained by the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your advice, so that the good you do may not be forced, but voluntary.". The message about overcoming slavery with the power of Christ's deliverance is very strong, and helps to understand the importance of this letter.

Suggests to Philemon that the newness of his relationship with Onesimus means for him to have much more than this relationship "both as a man, and as a brother in the Lord.". It is a growth in the awareness of human dignity, which the revelation of Christ leads us to discover.

Jesus, seeing that many people follow him, fascinated by his teaching, perhaps seeking in his company a solution to life's problems, a path to success, points out two decisive aspects that allow us to verify whether their dispositions are suitable to be his disciples, as are the twelve he has chosen.

The first is the relationship with those who have given us life and with whom we have shared it: father, mother, brothers and sisters, and with our own life. Then, the sphere of possessions: they must be willing to give up everything. Those first ones had been asked for a real detachment, which made them available to go anywhere without a saddlebag and with no place to lay their heads.

For all Christians who live their faith in ordinary life, this order of values is interior, and helps, when love of Jesus contrasts with love of family and possessions, to always choose the former.

Homily on the readings of Sunday 23rd Sunday

The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaa small one-minute reflection for these readings.

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