Sometimes the readings contain conflicting messages. The reading from Philemon is a classic example. Paul is a friend of Philemon. Philemon has a slave, Onesimus, that ran away. Onesimus was befriended by Paul. Paul has baptized Onesimus which now makes Onesimus a brother to Paul and to Philemon. Paul is writing to Philemon to accept Onesimus back as a brother in the Lord Jesus. If Philemon accepts Onesimus back with no punishment for running away, Philemon will have other slaves thinking they can run away. But now Onesimus is a brother and is to be treated as a Christian. What is Philemon to do?
And to complicate this all one more step, look at the phrase used for the responsorial psalm. It says, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.” Now you can read this as being blessed that you have received God’s help. But you can also read this as being blessed that you recognize you need God’s help. Or, and I relate this thought to the readings we have had this week and readings yet to come over the next couple of days, blessed are those who realize that everything comes from God, even those things we do not want. God gives us the good and the bad. We need to accept them as blessings, knowing in some way God will make good come from whatever He gives us.
In the gospel, Jesus does not give a truly clear response. I think Jesus has given the Pharisees and scribes clear responses in the past, but they did not listen. Why would they listen now? We are to do God’s Will. Through prayer we will discern what God’s Will is and will be able to respond appropriately to God’s Will. Today when you are in prayer, listen.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen