Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We have to meet them where they are.

Today at Mass we heard one of my favorite stories.   Saint Paul and Silas who have been traveling around witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ have now arrived in Athens.   As they journeyed around the city they have seen so many amazing sites.  I can only imagine what it looked like during its heyday.  Just seeing the ruins in pictures is powerful enough.   The city filled with freshly carved statues, teeming with people from various other cultures, and the Areopagus filled with images of gods and goddesses.   This area was the central hub where all the important figures in law, politics and philosophical discussion would be gathered.   Is it any wonder that Paul, a Roman citizen who understood the significance of the area, would choose this as the place to begin his discourse on the Christ?

He sets an example for us that many fail to remember in today’s times.   Too often we read the Bible as if it were written to us in today’s society.  Instead, to truly understand it we must look back and understand the communities these Gospel were written to and the sociopolitical climate that they employed.   Then when we go to share the Gospel with someone else we must meet there where they are.   It’s no good going to rural Virginia to a coal miner who didn’t graduate high school and try to use metaphors and similes about the intricacies of city life.   Nor would you go to the inner city youth who have never seen the inside of a coal mine and begin to speak about the traps that are used to shield each section or the fans that bring in the fresh air.   We have to use language that the people we are trying to witness to that they will understand, while also staying true the Gospel and continuing our own personal testimony.

Then we have to be open to not only sharing our own life experiences but learning from those of the people we are meeting.  Jesus informed us that there were many more lessons to be learned the Apostles weren’t ready to here.   I believe the same to be true today.   While the public deposit of faith was complete in Christ, understanding that deposit and how to apply it in our own situations, our own societies, and our own faith journeys is an ongoing process.  That’s why we Catholics have learned through much trial and yes, much error… of the necessity of pluralism inside the Church.   Unlike the past where the Church tried to turn people into mini versions of the evangelist themselves, we now seek to draw them in while keeping their cultural heritage and bringing them to Christ simultaneously.  Then we see the beauty of one singular Mass expressed in the language and culture of every person in the world, and the Altar of the Unknown God is revealed in every people from one end of the Earth to the other in the person of Jesus Christ through His Holy Church.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

A reflection on the readings for Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter: May 24th, 2017

Acts 17:15, 22-18:1
Psalm 148
John 16:12-15