Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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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 17,15.22-18,1

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. 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, because, as I strolled round looking at your sacred monuments, I noticed among other things an altar inscribed: To An Unknown God. In fact, the unknown God you revere is the one I proclaim to you. 'Since the God who made the world and everything in it is himself Lord of heaven and earth, he does not make his home in shrines made by human hands. Nor is he in need of anything, that he should be served by human hands; on the contrary, it is he who gives everything -- including life and breath -- to everyone. From one single principle he not only created the whole human race so that they could occupy the entire earth, but he decreed the times and limits of their habitation. And he did this so that they might seek the deity and, by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him; and indeed he is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live, and move, and exist, as indeed some of your own writers have said: We are all his children. 'Since we are the children of God, we have no excuse for thinking that the deity looks like anything in gold, silver or stone that has been carved and designed by a man. 'But now, overlooking the times of ignorance, God is telling everyone everywhere that they must repent, because he has fixed a day when the whole world will be judged in uprightness by a man he has appointed. And God has publicly proved this by raising him from the dead.' At this mention of rising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing; others said, 'We would like to hear you talk about this another time.' After that Paul left them, but there were some who attached themselves to him and became believers, among them Dionysius the Aeropagite and a woman called Damaris, and others besides. After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth,

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The passage of Acts tells about Paul's arrival in Athens. Athens. Although it was no longer as prosperous a city as it was in the days of Plato, Athens was still a large capital. In Luke's narration, Athens appears as a strategic city for the proclamation of the Gospel, after Jerusalem and before Rome. Athens was the cultural capital of the time. Paul did not begin challenging the Athenians immediately after arriving in the city. He wanted to understand the culture, the customs, the feelings, and the life of the Athenians. 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 we face and cannot avoid, because the Gospel alone can make the world in which we live, as well as the numerous cultures that guide people, more human. The Gospel is a leaven that transforms even cultures from within so that they may help build a more human and peaceful world.