Acts 17:15, 22-18:1
Last week I attended the Presbyteral Convocation for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and one of the things I learned was that the New Millennials, young adults, especially Hispanic-Latinos of 18 to 35 years old, are the largest and fastest growing group in the archdiocese. I was also reminded that New Millennials tend to be more peer-bounded, self-serving, and spiritual individuals than inter-generational, communal and religious people. This new generational reality obviously calls for a new evangelization with a pastoral approach that meets them where they are and persuasively helps them make the connection between spirituality and religion. Such evangelizing, pastoral needs, however, are not unique to our generation of New Millennials, for the cultural, religious, political and social realities of people of every age have indeed called for a comprehensive preaching of the gospel that speaks to their life-giving longings and experiences of God.
In today’s first reading, we see Paul using the aforementioned pastoral approach in his evangelization of the Athenians, who "in every respect . . . are very religious" and debaters of new philosophical ideas. The Athenians already had the basic intuition of human and divine existence, for Paul reminds them that some of their Greek poets had said that "‘we are the offspring of God’" in whom "‘we live and move and have our being’." Notice that, as Paul acknowledges their religious piety, he respectfully tries to correct their misguided imagination and artistic crafting of divinity, especially of the "Unknown God" of creation who cannot be contained in and by any creature. Paul thus tells the Athenians that they "unknowingly worship" what he and Christians of all ages have truly believed and proclaimed in the Risen Christ, who is "the Lord of heaven and earth," because everything comes to be in and through him.
Even Jesus meets us where we are and pardons our ignorance, for he knows that we cannot bear all the truth on our own, except in "the Spirit of Truth," who comes to all his faithful ones to guide them to "all truth" by affirming them in his loving communion with the Father. Therefore, today’s readings invite us to reflect on and evaluate our pastoral care of those to whom we minister. I hope, and for this I pray, that you and I will meet them where they are, so that we can reach out to them in and through the Spirit of Truth.
Fr. Alfredo Ocampo, C.P. preaches and is a member of the Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.