Build bridges with those who do not believe or with those who have a different creed from ours. “Always build bridges, always reach out, no aggression.” That was the Pope’s invitation during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday as he continued his Catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles.
The Pope took his cue from St. Paul as he described this great Saint’s preaching before the Areopagus in Athens, the cultural capital of the pagan world. In a city filled with idols, said Pope Francis, Paul proclaims the Gospel by appealing to the religiosity of his hearers and their desire to know the truth.
A call to conversion
The Pontiff explained, that when St Paul sees an altar dedicated to an “unknown god”, he states that God, the transcendent Creator of the world, has indeed made himself known, and sent his Son to call all people to conversion and the fullness of truth.
Yet, the Pope notes, that when Paul speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection, his listeners lose interest and his words arouse mockery and derision in the eyes of the Greeks.
But as Pope Francis points out, St Paul’s preaching bears fruit in the conversion of some Athenians, including Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris, who open themselves up to the faith.
Inculturate the message of faith
Concluding his catechesis, the Pope invited the faithful to ask the Holy Spirit, “for the capacity to delicately inculturate the message of faith, placing a contemplative gaze on those who are ignorant of Christ, moved by a love that warms even the most hardened hearts.”