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WEDNESDAY HOMILY: They Worship on the Altar to the Unknown God

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT
5/8/2013 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (

He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

You must become the answer.  Many of our contemporaries don't even know that they have these questions in their hearts, much less that Christ the Savior is the answer to them.  What you must do is to present to them in their lives the very answer to the questions that they don't even know they are asking.  You must be the living presence of Jesus Christ in the world!


P>HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman two thousand years ago, saying, "You worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know" (John 4:22).

The first reading for the day talks about people who worshiped "what they do not know," they worshipped an "Unknown God" with an altar dedicated to the unknown god, or in Greek, an areopagus.  Blessed Pope John Paul said that people of our time are like this.

We are made for God like fish are made for water.  Yet are we aware that we need God more than the air we breathe?

There are millions of people in the world reaching, searching, stretching out their hands and hearts for God, but they do not even know that they are looking for him.  They think they are looking for different values, issues, or concerns that are deepest in their hearts, but in reality these are just cries of children to God, whom they desperately want, but do not yet know.

Blessed Pope John Paul mentions a few of these altars to the Unknown God in his Encyclical, "Mission of the Redeemer":

-"the world of communications;"

-"commitment to peace, development, and the liberation of peoples;"

-"the rights of individuals and peoples, especially those of minorities;"

-"the advancement of women and children;"

-"safeguarding the created world;"


-"scientific research;"

-"international relations which promote dialogue and open new possibilities;"

Do these sound familiar?  Looks like the laundry list of things that your liberal friends are overly preoccupied with?  Wouldn't it be so nice if you could dismiss these things as being unimportant and not really pertaining to the Gospel?

The fact is, this is where God is speaking to modern man.  God.  Not a goofy sense of injustice, not an inadequately catechized catholic, not just a person who spends too much time watching secular evening news and not enough time praying.

This is the list of things that every serious Catholic should know very much about so to be able to understand the way that God speaks to people who may have good will, but no intention of praying or going to Mass, or even thinking about God.


Because Jesus Christ is very much alive in the world today and has a very real and active dialogue, a conversation of salvation, with each human heart.  When Blessed Pope John Paul points this list out as the areopagi, the places where people of our time are being touched by God and don't even know it, Jesus' disciples should recognize this and follow his lead.

What does this mean?

The next time you are at a cocktail party, a barbecue, a supermarket, or wherever, and the person next to you is concerned about the environment or human rights, you see it as an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, a moment when Christ himself is asking you, like St Paul, to claim that altar of the "Unknown God," and offer the answer to the human heart's deepest longings and questionings: Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel for today the Lord says that the Holy Spirit will, "take from what is mine and declare it to you."

What does this mean?

The Holy Spirit touches the people of our time with the humanity of Christ.  He speaks to them in ways that they themselves do not even recognize, in issues that they find very important and indeed they are, but these questions in their hearts ought not to remain unanswered.

You must become the answer.  Many of our contemporaries don't even know that they have these questions in their hearts, much less that Christ the Savior is the answer to them.  What you must do is to present to them in their lives the very answer to the questions that they don't even know they are asking.  You must be the living presence of Jesus Christ in the world!

How do you do this?

You know the answer already.  Pray.  Go to Mass frequently.  Read the Scriptures.  Pray.  Go to confession.  Love and serve your family.  Pray.  Listen to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, especially when he talks about this laundry list - every Pope in the past 100 years has spoken quite a bit on these issues. Study modern issues with the mind of the Church.  Pray.

May Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, help Catholics to claim the modern Areopagi, the altars to the Unknown God, which the people of our time unknowingly have in search of a God they don't even know is chasing after them.

Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom.  He speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.  Visit his homily blog or his blog on sexual ethics


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