23rd Sunday of the Year C

The Apostles of Christ: Fathers not masters, paternity without paternalism

(Phm. 9-17)

(Fr. Peter Madros)


St. Paul interceded with Philemon on behalf of one of his spiritual sons, understandably the son of St. Paul and not his correspondent, and once again spiritual and not biological, for the good reason that the apostle had never been married (1Co. 9:5). The anti-Pauline bad mouths maintained that the confirmed and toughened celibacy of Saul of Tarsus “had rescued a woman from despair” that could have been the fruit of the intractable temperament of the apostle!

Now, the Letters give us a completely different message! Paul, who could have been clumsy with women (?), was an excellent father even if he were not a progenitor which provides proof for maternal tenderness as well, with no offense to his adversaries (1Th. 2: 7-8; Ga. 4:19).


Spiritual Paternity of St. Paul, of the Other Apostles and Their Successors, the Bishops and Priests

Our apostle wrote to Philemon: I beg you, on behalf of my son, whom I have begotten in my chains, Onesimus… ”. Then it is not an issue of physiological paternity, since St. Paul, an eternal celibate and “eunuch for the kingdom” was over and above in prison, tied in chains, with very restricted movement and under surveillance! This is a statement and a univocal claim of paternity, though the son did not honor the father! In fact, the slave Onesimus was not straight with his master, the least that one could say. The apostle does not excuse the transgression of his spiritual son. While he condemned him, he still pleaded with his master for pardon and giving one more chance to the unfortunate. Here, he hits two birds with one stone: he proclaims fraternity, therefore equality in and through Christ between Philemon, a free man, and Onesimus, a slave, this being a prelude to the end of slavery with the grace of Christ and the Church. On the other hand, he proclaims universal brotherhood in Christ, based on the Divine paternity in heaven, and the apostolic paternity on earth!


A stubborn objection: “Did not Christ prohibit calling anyone “father” on earth (Mt. 23:9)?

Sure enough Jesus prohibited his apostles and other Christians from calling the scribes and Pharisees “father” and “master” (Mt. 23:2). The apostles well understood the restrained nature of this prohibition (contrary to those who stubbornly reject the spiritual priestly paternity). As a matter of fact, the SS. Apostles Peter, Paul and John, at least, considered themselves as fathers of the faithful, and of their disciples in particular. Fr. Ya’coub Saadeh in his book “الجواب من الكتاب” and its English version “Faith and Scripture” pp. 189-194 cites the texts dealing with apostolic paternity. Here are some of them: the prince of the apostles calls Mark “his son” (1P. 5:13); St. John does not stop from calling the faithful “my children, my little sons” (1Jn. 2:1 and 12; 2:14; 18:28; and 3: 7 and 18; and 4:4; and 5:21 etc.); our apostle does that as well without batting an eyelid (1Co. 4:15; 2Co. 12:14ff; 1Tm. 1:2 and 18; and 2:1-2; 2Tm. 1:2; Tt. 1:4).

For the faithful in the ministerial priesthood, the apostles and their successors are also their brothers in baptism and confirmation. In the note to Philemon, St. Paul declares himself father and brother at the same time. St. Augustine explained to his flock this apparent rather than real paradox by saying “I am Christian with you, I am priest for you”.


Another disaster of antihuman and antichristian obstinacy: the negation of paternity and maternity all together!

In some Western countries (of Christian origin!), for example France, the United States, and Canada, certain laws ban the poor citizens from using expressions like “father” and “mother”, “by deference” for an infinitesimal minority of homosexuals. This despotic oligarchy (power in the hands of a minority) is imposed on the downtrodden majority! The expressions imposed, without any democracy, and against the will of the majority, are also unjust, little correct and unfortunate! Instead of “father, Dad”, it calls for “parent 1” instead of “mother, mom” “parent 2”. Behold! There is discrimination in this new label! Why should a woman in a normal marriage be classified as second and not first? Where are the feminists? When it is a question of a homosexual “couple” the imposed expression is also far from the reality as much as from normalcy, and, even less, it is terribly lacking in justice “parent 1, parent 2”, now at least one of the two “partners” (that we have to use the American term!) is not a parent at all! The word “parent” comes from the Latin “parens” and simply and squarely means a male or a female “begetter”. Why such a persistence to legally belie or to belittle the normal couple and their normal families? Is this a fatal fruit of movements that promote universal brotherhood and sharing, at least in their speeches? Talking about brotherhood how could this unfortunate humanity of uncertain lineage, hope for any type of brotherhood if paternity and maternity do not exist anymore? We face all kinds of problems of identity, legal rights and dues…

In French schools, it seems, a law or a draught law, evidently always on a destructive course, advances a “secular ethics” code that anticipates uprooting the traditional moral based on Christian values of course! In this context, it seems that no mention is made, for a reason, of “parents”, considering the inappropriateness of this expression for homosexual couples, but rather “legally in charge 1 and 2”. One cannot always understand what has determined that one partner is designated as one and the other as two.

Conclusion: Return of Herod the Great, the infanticide sire!

Herod, the Judeo-Edomite, wanted to kill Christ the child! He ended up killing three of his own children at least!

Moral: The movement of the laity calling for domination of the Church and the militant atheists who want to decimate the Ten Commandments and morality in general, and the Christian morality in particular, will eventually kill their own children, destroy their own country (the word “own” can have a double meaning!). And in part, this is a done deal! Our answer to that is inspired and dictated by Jesus “Recite: Our Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!



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