St Onesimus

Martyr (entered heaven sometime in the first century)

Dear Shamus,

I am very glad to hear from you – finally.  Your note was an answer to my prayers. I was troubled to no end when I heard that you stopped going to Mass as soon as you got to college.  It is unfortunate that you had to experience such decadence before coming back to your senses, but at least you did come back. Don’t think, however, that it will all be smooth sailing from now on.  The devil, having once drawn you into those sinful habits, will know exactly how to tempt you to return to them. Humility, prayer, and the sacraments will be your strength and light. You may want to say a prayer or two to today’s saint as you try to rebuild your moral infrastructure; he too knew what it’s like to recover from serious falls.  He was the bearer of St Paul’s New Testament letter to Philemon.

Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave.  Somehow he had made his way from Ephesus (Turkey) to Rome, where he fell in with the Christians, becoming a fast friend of St Paul and even joining his ministry team there in the Eternal City.  Finally, he decided to go back to his lawful master, and asked St Paul to write him a letter of introduction to soften Philemon’s reception. (St Paul had become friends with Philemon during his long stay in Ephesus on his third missionary journey.)  The letter shows how greatly Onesimus had advanced in his knowledge and imitation of Christ under Paul’s guidance. It all worked out well, and Philemon decided to let Onesimus go free. Onesimus then returned to Rome to continue as Paul’s assistant.  Eventually he became a missionary himself, and a bishop, and it seems that he brought his discipleship to a crowning conclusion with martyrdom.

So you can be sure, my repentant nephew, that if you let him, God will do great things in and through you, now that you have returned from your prodigal adventures.  May you always find your joy in the Father’s house from now until the end. Count on my prayers.

Your affectionate uncle, Eddy

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