For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
A strange image, to become slaves to one another, particularly today in a world which rails against (though still allows) slavery. Paul may not have been challenging 'slavery' as an evil, as we would today, but he is subverting the word in the way in which he uses it here. Becoming slaves to one another is allowing ourselves to recognize that we belong to one another in love. It exposes us to one another, makes us vulnerable.
That kind of love is risky, and is to be contained, says Paul, in a community of trust, of mutuality, and of safety.
Our Scriptures call us again and again to risk love. But not to do so lightly, or foolishly - but to grow in love as part of a loving community. That is the calling of the Church, to be a place where we can be a place of absolute love and trust.
How different our church, our world, would be if this ideal were one we lived up to. Pray God it may be so.
Almighty God, you have created all people and all of creation. We give you thanks for this gift we’re invited to engage with hope, joy and love as your disciples. Open our hearts and our eyes to see our communities as you would have us to see them. Help us to find courage to sit and hear others when so often we want to be heard first. You are good and you are gracious, O God. Let us see all people as children of you, who created us all. It is in the name Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.