Announcing not denouncing- Thursday, 22nd Week in ordinary time- St Paul’s letter to the Colossians  1:9-14

St Paul has come to the aid of his “fellow servant” Epaphras, to confirm his community in the faith that Epaphras had instructed them in. Epaphras was perhaps converted by Paul himself, during the apostle’s ministry in Ephesus. He seeks his spiritual mentor and co- worker’s help to answer a philosophical false teaching of human tradition, of which the intention was only to deceive the Christian community.

Central to this empty deceit were concerns regarding the elemental spirits of the universe. It held the belief in angels and demanded the observance of certain foods, festivals, new moons and Sabbath; most of all, it encouraged ascetical practices.

The letter to the Colossians makes it clear that such thoughts have now spread among Epaphras’ infantile community who have accepted Christ. An infantile community is always susceptible to a syncretic mix of ideas, influenced by their former religious practices of Judaism and Hellenism (Greek culture) into their new faith.

Colossae’s neighbouring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis were also known to be centres of Phrygian mystery cults and these thoughts had now infected Colossae. The fascination surrounding these cults was the secrecy associated with the initiation and ritual practices which were not revealed to outsiders. I guess if you want to generate curiosity, hide it under a cloak; after all curiosity did kill the cat!

Paul now writes to confirm, not condemn the community. Paul does not feel the need to answer the many issues raised, but rather confirms the faith that has been handed down to them from Epaphras; a faith that in itself answers all doubts.

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