February 15, 2011

Onesimus - A Saint for Discouraged Hearts

I wonder what it was like when Onesimus (oh-NES-i-mus) returned to Colossae.  He had been a slave to a Colossian family, ran away, met Paul, and converted to Christianity.

The Bearer of Two of Paul's Letters
After his conversion, Paul wrote a letter to Onesimus's masters (Philemon and Apphia), requesting forgiveness for their run-away slave.  Paul then sent Onesimus back to Colossae with the letter.

Tychicus too
Onesimus (along with Saint Tychicus) also delivered a letter to all Christians of Colossae.  It is unclear whether the two letters were delivered during the same time frame, or on different occasions.

X     X      X  X

I am sending him (Onesimus), that is, my own heart, back to you.
- Philemon 12   

... together with Onesimus, a trustworthy and beloved brother, who is one of you.  They (Onesimus and Tychicus) will tell you about everything here.
- Colossians 4:9    

X     X      X  X
Returning to Colossae
How did the Colossians react when they saw Onesimus (and Tychicus?) walk toward their city?  Did they run to tell Onesimus's owners?  Did they try to apprehend Onesimus?  Or, did the spirit of Christianity soften their hearts and allow them to welcome Onesimus as a Christian brother?

Feast Date Change
The feast of St. Onesimus used to be on February 16, but was changed to February 15 in the 2004 Roman Martyrology.

Onesimus Ministries
Probably due to the discouragement Onesimus felt as a slave and the circumstances he experienced as a run-away, a handful of ministries have been named after this saint of the Bible:

Onesimus Boys' Centre in Kenya, Africa
Photo Credit: Mattgirling



Onesimus Ministries in Virginia



The Onesimus Connection in Florida

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