Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we now see the Apostle Paul preaching before the Areopagus in Athens, the cultural capital of the pagan world. In a city filled with idols, Paul proclaims the Gospel by appealing to the religiosity of his hearers and their desire to know the truth. Seeing an altar dedicated to an “unknown god”, Paul states that God, the transcendent Creator of the world, has indeed made himself known, and sent his Son among us to call all people to conversion and the fullness of truth. Yet when Paul begins to speak of Christ’s death and resurrection, his listeners lose interest. The mystery of the cross, in which God’s wisdom and power are revealed, appears as folly in the eyes of the Greeks (cf. 1 Cor 1:23). Yet Paul’s preaching bears fruit in the conversion of some Athenians, including Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris. As we think of our own culture, may we, like Paul, be sensitive to people’s deepest yearnings in order to propose the mystery of Christ and his saving love.
The Pope also greeted the various English-speaking groups present at the Audience:
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Malta, Zimbabwe, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!