Another issue on which I think we can say that God stands firm is slavery. There seems to be no case in which slavery is acceptable. Holding a person against their will goes against the dignity of the human person who is made in the image and likeness of God. It goes against "love your neighbor as yourself." By its very definition it goes against free will.
No doubt we should consider the issue of Paul's writings about slavery. He speaks of slavery in various ways. Paul likes to contrast being slaves to God with slaves to sin. In Colossians 4 he urges slave owners to be fair to their slaves. Slave masters were to treat their slaves as God, the Supreme Master, would treat the owners. It is true, he does not condemn slavery outright, but he does expect slave owners to treat their slaves with respect and to set them free when possible (see Philemon). In Galatians 3:11 he declares that in the Kingdom there is no slave or free. Since we are trying to bring the Kingdom of God on earth, is this not the attitude we should take toward slavery? Today, modern societies have recognized that all forms of slavery are wrong whether it is the slavery of domestic workers, field hands, soldiers, or sex workers. So let us stand with God against slavery, against abusing people, against seeing others as inferior to ourselves.
For Reflection: Is there any way in which I have treated another person as a slave? Have I withheld wages? Have I coerced someone to do what I wanted? Have I failed to grant another freedom when I could have? Have I considered someone to be my inferior?
Let us pray. Jesus, I repent of all the ways in which I have participated in slavery and I ask you to forgive me. I stand with you now against slavery in all of its forms throughout the world. I stand with you in declaring an end to slavery. I want to be part of bringing your light to the darkness of this issue. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
A second Spiritual Work of Mercy is to warn the sinner. Never a popular thing to do. No one wants to hear someone else telling them they are sinning. So how can we practice this particular work of mercy? Let's remember first of all that it is a work of mercy and must be approached with love and mercy in mind, not judgment. As Paul wrote to the Galatians (6:1), "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Paul is speaking to a community of people who feel some spiritual responsibility toward each other to grow together in Christ. They are a community growing together in discipleship, working toward the common good. And they should treat each other gently.
The way the woman caught in adultery was being treated by the Jewish leaders was not a good example of warning the sinner (John 8:1-6). Their intent to stone her was not a warning to her but to others who might be thinking of adultery. Jesus' instruction to her was to leave her life of sin. She had already been publicly humiliated. There was no need for him to say more.
A word of warning would ordinarily be given in private, but the woman had been brought into the main public area of the temple. It would ordinarily be done one-on-one, but a group of men accosted her. It would ordinarily be done with compassion and mercy, but the leaders wanted to shame her and make an example of her. They were using her for their own ends. There was nothing gentle about it.
For Reflection: How would I react if someone were to warn me about a sin? How would I want to be approached? Before we begin to warn someone else, a time of intercessory prayer for that person would be helpful, and perhaps all that is necessary.
Let us pray. Jesus, if I am persisting in sin and hardened to it, I hope that you will send someone to warn me and that I will be open to that warning.
Another of our titles, if we want to call them that, is "heirs of God" and "co-heirs with Christ." (See Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 1:5.) We are heirs because we are sons (daughters) of God our Father. There is perhaps no greater designation than to be called a child of God because of the ramifications. Children grow up with their parents and take on their mannerisms and habits. Children benefit from the education and other things that parents provide because parents want their children to succeed in life. They benefit from their parents' place in society. Children inherit from their parents when the parents die.
God, as our Father, wants and provides the same for us and even more so because He is God. God made us in his image and likeness. We can, through the example of Jesus and applying the Word of God to our lives, grow up to be like him. Because of natural parents, we might say of someone, "She has her father's eyes and his smile." How much greater the compliment if we can say, "She has her Father's eyes and smile, his compassion and love of others." Or, "He has learned patience and self-control."
As children of God we hold a certain place in society. After all, our Father is the Supreme Godhead, Creator and Ruler of the Universe. If we know who He is, then we should know who we are. We can brag on our Father and bring people to meet him. People might look to us to be leaders and to grant favors which we would be able to offer through exercise of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
As children of the Father, co-heirs with Christ, we inherit all that he has. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18) and he passed it on to his disciples. He said we could drive out demons, speak in new tongues, and heal the sick. And we will inherit the Kingdom. At the end He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, enter into my joy (cf. Matthew 25:23).
That's what it means to be an heir.
On Monday I mentioned thinking and making positive statements about ourselves. I wasn't thinking about making just any positive statement about ourselves. We could say for years that we are excellent car mechanics, but, if we know nothing about cars, saying it doesn't make it come true. No, the statements I envisioned are based in Scripture.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (See also Galatians 6:15.) Therefore, if we are "in Christ", if we are baptized, we are a new creation. So, let us say, "I am a new creation." We can also say, "The old me has passed away, the new me has come!"
Let us pray. Jesus, I thank you for making me a new creation through baptism. I thank you that the old me has passed away and the new has come. With you all good things are possible.
It is no small thing to be a son of God. Paul says, repeatedly, that we are sons of God through faith in Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior. What does being a son mean? Sons inherit from their father. And we are not minor children. We are old enough to not only inherit but also to manage the estate. As Paul says, we have the full rights of sons. Because we are sons, we have clothed ourselves with Christ and received his Spirit into our hearts. Now we can call God "Daddy." (Galatians 3:26-4:7)
So, we are sons, clothed in Christ, having the Spirit in our hearts, our Dad created the heavens and the earth, and He put us in charge of managing the estate, the kingdom of God on earth.
For reflection: Daddy, thank you for making us your sons. You have given us great rewards and great responsibility. I'm glad that you have other sons and I am not in this alone. Help me to clothe myself with Christ, to put on Christ every day and to walk in your Spirit as I go about the work of the Kingdom.
In the 3rd chapter of Galatians, which is certainly a difficult one, Paul contrasts the law with the promise given to Abraham and the law with faith in God/Christ. In both cases, the law is the loser. The promise to Abraham is greater than the law and faith in Christ is greater than the law.
Let us pray. Lord, you have lavished me with your love
St. Paul seems to me to be the great interpreter of what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus meant for both Jews and Gentiles. How is it that someone who never met Jesus in the flesh becomes the theologian who works out the applications of what Jesus accomplished? Paul himself says it was by revelation, not by the teaching of the other apostles (Galatians 1:11-24).
When he writes to the Galatians to reinforce what he had previously taught them, Paul begins with the example of Abraham. "Those who believe (in God) are children of Abraham" (Gal 3:7). It's a simple statement, but with it Paul extends the promise made to Abraham to both Jews and Gentiles, and indeed to all who have faith. This was not generally accepted Jewish teaching. It was a revelation from God. "So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith" (Gal 3:9).
But faith in God, lived under the law, as Paul will demonstrate, will only get you so far. The work of Jesus and faith in him is necessary.
Let us pray. Thank you, Father, for bringing us to faith. We thank you for Abraham and Sarah, Miriam, Aaron and Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. We thank you for all the men and women who have listened to you over the centuries. We thank you for the promise made to Abraham and Sarah and the law given to Moses. We thank you for the bravery of David and the wisdom of Solomon. We thank you for your prophets who spoke your word at the cost of their lives. May we be inspired and graced to follow their example.
God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because we are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out "Abba, Father." So we are no longer slaves, but sons, and since we are sons, God has made us heirs (based on Galatians 4:4-7).
Because Jesus died and rose, I am able to be a child of God, not a slave. Because Jesus died and rose, I can call God "Father". Because Jesus died and rose, I am able to receive Jesus' Spirit in my heart. Because Jesus died and rose, I am an heir of the Kingdom - the Kingdom of God.
Let us pray. Though I am unworthy, Father, you sent your Son. Though I am unworthy, Father, you call me "son." Though I am unworthy, Father, you place your Spirit within me. Though I am unworthy, Father, you give me the Kingdom. What wondrous love is this?
Let's be on the lookout today for good things. Too often we notice the bad things going on around us without taking note of the good. So today let's watch for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
For reflection: Who can I compliment today?
Let us pray. "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together." Psalm 34:1-3
What else might we see or not see in the Kingdom? Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free" (Galatians 3:28). If there are neither Jews nor Greeks, then religious and political divisions are gone. They are gone because all are "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (3:26-27). In the Kingdom the only designation that matters is that we belong to Christ. We don't belong to a religion or to a country. We don't belong to someone else. We cannot be bought or sold or given to someone else because we belong to Christ. So there is no slavery, no bondage, no sex trafficking. There are no religious or political wars. All are equal and treat each other with respect and love.
For reflection: This type of equality is difficult to imagine in our present situation where what country you belong to, or what religion you practice, or your sex determines much of your life. Let us open our minds to Christ, put on the mind of Christ, clothe ourselves with Christ. And imagine.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.