Today’s reading from Acts is so vividly recounted that it is easy to picture ourselves there, listening to the apostle Paul as he proclaims the core of the Christian message in first-century Athens. Paul focuses on three truths, and as he speaks, we are invited to imagine what would change if we took these truths to heart and allowed them to transform our lives.
“For the God who made the world and ‘all that is in it’…” Paul reminds us that everything that exists is a gift of God’s love, an expression of God’s goodness and wonderful creativity. Nothing exists, no person, no species, and nothing of the natural world, that did not come from God. All things receive their being and life from God not just once but continually, which is why apart from God nothing can live.
“They were to seek God…though he is not really far from any one of us.” The God who absolutely transcends us is also astonishingly close at hand, continuously in reach, in those with whom we live, in strangers passing by, in the face of a delighted child or the person grieving a loss, in moments of joyful celebration as well as moments of silence. Every moment of every day God is near, surrounding us, upholding us, accepting and accompanying us. Even if we tried, we couldn’t get away from God because wherever we would go, God would already be there waiting for us.
“’In him we live and move and have our being’….” All things are in God and God is in all things. What a difference it would make if we acquired the moral and spiritual vision by which we saw God in every human being, in every creature, and the whole created world. We would love our neighbors eagerly and joyfully. We would treat every creature with respect and would never stop giving thanks for the gift of God’s creation. Peace, justice, and love would abound.
It almost sounds like heaven.
Paul J. Wadell is Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, and a member of the Passionist Family of Holy Cross Province.