Bread for the Journey: Daily Reflections for Daily Life in Christ
BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY
(Daily Reflections for Daily Life in Christ)
By: Deacon Keith A. Fournier © Third Millennium, LLC
Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: "You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, 'To an Unknown God.'
What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.
Acts of the Apostles 17: 22, 23
The Contemporary Areopagus
The Acts of the Apostles is the paramount "unfinished" Book of the New Testament of our Bible. It tells of the ongoing missionary work of the Church. That work continues until the Lord returns. In fact, all of us are missionaries. That is what the Church means when she speaks of a "universal call to holiness" and the "apostolate" of the lay faithful.
By virtue of our Baptism, we are called into the redemptive mission of the Church.
The mission we engage in our day is simply the continuation of what St. Paul and all the followers of Jesus through the ages have engaged.
We, who live in this 21st century, the first decade of the Third Christian Millennium, find ourselves in an environment very similar to that which the Apostle Paul faced in this account taken from our daily readings from the Sacred liturgy.
The Athenians were certainly interested in what they perceived to be "higher things." Yet, their lives and their language were not consistent. Their culture was not connected to their claims of lofty concern for the higher order. Sound familiar?
We must learn from the Apostle Paul. He is a missionary from whom we can gather much wisdom for our own work in what our Holy Father has called "The New Evangelization."
He did not approach the Athenians who had gathered in the Areopagus with disdain or judgmentalism. Rather, he approached them with respect, finding in their yearning for higher things a foundation for articulating the Truth of the Christian claim.
He had a catholic heart, knowing that every man and woman on the face of the earth is made for God and will always yearn for Him, no matter how marred and wounded they have become through sin.
He then found a common ground from which he discoursed intelligently, without in any way compromising the essentials of the Christian message.
Some commentators have opined that this was an "unsuccessful" missionary effort because only a few followed him and the One whom he preached. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, historians record that this encounter laid the groundwork for the conversion of Greece. All of history has indeed been enriched by the Greek Christians.
St. Paul reveals the heart of a Catholic approach to evangelization. He began with a respect for even those "religious" traditions that he discovered in the culture into which he proclaimed the fullness of truth in Jesus Christ. He entered right into that culture, rather than stay on the outside and wait for them to come to hear the Gospel. Finally, after discharging his apostolic task, he trusted that the Lord is the One who brings the fruit.
So must we.
The "fields" of the contemporary age are indeed "ripe for the harvest". We are the laborers, sent into the fields of culture: the economy, the academy, the marketplace, the arts, politics and policy...the entirety of the modern Areopagus. We are called to proclaim "What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you."
In doing so, we continue the Acts of the Apostles into the Third Christian Millennium.
"Heavenly Father, help me to be faithful to my own missionary vocation this day. As I enter into the "ordinary", help me to make it extraordinary, by bringing the presence of your Son. Help me to recognize the good in everyone I encounter and begin there, so that I can be a vehicle of redemptive love.
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit,"
"Bread for the Journey: Daily Bread for Daily Life in Christ" is a reflection on daily life and the Christian mission written exclusively for "Catholic Online" by Deacon Keith Fournier. BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY will become a "Premier Service" of "Catholic Online Publications" in July.
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