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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 17,15-22

Paul's escort took him as far as Athens, and went back with instructions for Silas and Timothy to rejoin Paul as soon as they could. Paul waited for them in Athens and there his whole soul was revolted at the sight of a city given over to idolatry. In the synagogue he debated with the Jews and the godfearing, and in the market place he debated every day with anyone whom he met. Even a few Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some said, 'What can this parrot mean?' And, because he was preaching about Jesus and Resurrection, others said, 'He seems to be a propagandist for some outlandish gods.' They got him to accompany them to the Areopagus, where they said to him, 'Can we know what this new doctrine is that you are teaching? Some of the things you say seemed startling to us and we would like to find out what they mean.' The one amusement the Athenians and the foreigners living there seem to have is to discuss and listen to the latest ideas. So Paul stood before the whole council of the Areopagus and made this speech: 'Men of Athens, I have seen for myself how extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters,


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

According to God’s plan, persecution pushed the disciples to communicate the good news of the kingdom in new places. The Lord turned the cruelty of those who opposed the Gospel into an advantage. Thus Paul came to Athens as a fugitive. Although it was no longer as prosperous a city as it was in the days of Plato, Athens was still a large capital. According to Luke’s narrative, after being in Jerusalem and before going to Rome, Paul had to preach the Gospel in Athens, the cultural capital of the time. Paul did not begin challenging the Athenians immediately after arriving in the city. He preferred to follow the crowds through the agora and the market in order to understand the mind-set of the Athenians. It was a very delicate challenge, and Paul knew it. Therefore he wanted to understand the culture, the customs, the feelings, and the life of the Athenians from the inside, so to speak. The great question in Paul’s heart was clear: could Jerusalem conquer Athens? Could the Gospel touch the heart of the Areopagus? It is the same question we ask ourselves when faced with the many "Areopaguses" of this world, the many cultures that inhabit this planet and pass through the hearts and minds of men and women. The audacity of Paul, who courageously stands before the wise people of Athens, shows that no "Areopagus", no culture, is foreign to the preaching of the Gospel. Rather, the "Areopaguses" of today are waiting for disciples who have the wisdom and the strength to proclaim the salvation that comes from Jesus. This is the great challenge that faces all Christians, the challenge that we cannot avoid, because the Gospel alone can make the world in which we live more human.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets