Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Own Prison

Readings for Thursday, November 11/ Memorial of St. Martin of Tours:
Philemon 7-20
Psalm 146:7-10
Luke 17:20-25

"I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment..."

One the face of things, this sentence isn't that important. After all, it's just one more among many sentences giving us some background before we can finally get to the meat of the Word of God. Right? Or is there something more to this passage?

It's a common experience of humanity that we encounter difficulties and trials at various points throughout life. These trials can come in the form of simply having a bad day, being stuck in a situation that you don't know how to get out of, or any number of things. And one easy way to deal with those times is to simply avoid dealing with what is at hand. We can think back to times gone by when things were better. We can look to things in the future of how everything will be different. We can sit and moan and groan about how things are for us and throw ourselves a great 'pity party' of sorts. I have done these things myself and still find myself doing them on occasion. But if we spend time with this passage from St. Paul, we come to find that in his great trials he kept his eyes on what really mattered. He would have had every right to be downtrodden. He had experienced great things and done incredible works and yet he finds himself imprisoned. How easily I would begin to moan and groan if that were the case for me! And yet, in that time he instead turned toward the Lord and continued to do the work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in his time in prison that Onesimus is 'born' of Paul, speaking to the spiritual fatherhood of Paul bringing about the gift of faith in the man. Instead of turning toward himself, Paul turned toward the Lord and toward others, realizing that even in the worst of situations, God still works incredible miracles and changes hearts. Ultimately, then, it's about recognizing where the Lord is in the midst of everything and keeping ourselves focused on Him so that when He speaks, we might hear and heed His voice. So when things are getting rough or when we find ourselves in a tough situation - and even in the good times and routine-ness of daily life - let us turn toward the Lord, that He might speak to our hearts and we might in turn nurture the faith of those who walk with us on the journey.