In today’s passage from the “Acts of the Apostles” we learn three things about the Athenians. They were deeply religious people, worshipped a multiplicity of gods, and were curious in discovering their relationship and obligations to these deities. It’s obvious that Paul understood their beliefs and practices when he addressed them at the Areopagus.
Beginning his speech, Paul makes reference to their deep religiosity by commenting on the number of shrines to the various gods that he has visited. He tactfully and gently tries to disabuse their belief in these divinities made by human hands in gold, silver and stone. Paul describes his amazement when he came across the altar inscribed “To an unknown god.” This enabled him to make the obvious transition to the God he wanted to tell them about.
This unknown God does not dwell in shrines made by human hands, but rather was the one responsible for creating and sustaining all things. No need therefore to search for him, since “he is not far from anyone of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’”. This unknown God is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He lived among us and was appointed “to judge the world with justice.”
Paul assures them that Jesus provided confirmation of his message by his resurrection from the dead. Paul’s statement about the resurrection from the dead spontaneously divided his listeners into two camps. Those who scoffed at such an absurd possibility from those who wished to hear more from him at a later time.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his apostles: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” Aware of Jesus’ teaching, Paul knew that then and there was not the proper time to pursue his instruction for the Athenians. He knew that would only initiate a war of words ending in angry divisions. Rather he believed if he did his part the Holy Spirit would guide them to the truth.
Paul provides us with a most satisfactory way to proclaim Christ’s message. Simply by words and deeds plant the seeds of truth as Paul did. After all, that’s what Jesus asked us to do and the only thing we can do. Then allow God’s Spirit to provide the growth. Ultimately this process will provide a much more effective and fruitful results. Trying to force acceptance through human arguments seldom converts others to the faith.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook