Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 17:15, 22-18:1)

After Paul's escorts had taken him to Athens,
they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy
to join him as soon as possible.

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:
"You Athenians, I see that in every respect
you are very religious.
For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines,
I even discovered an altar inscribed, 'To an Unknown God.'
What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and all that is in it,
the Lord of heaven and earth,
does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,
nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.
Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.
He made from one the whole human race
to dwell on the entire surface of the earth,
and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,
so that people might seek God,
even perhaps grope for him and find him,
though indeed he is not far from any one of us.
For 'In him we live and move and have our being,'
as even some of your poets have said,
'For we too are his offspring.'
Since therefore we are the offspring of God,
we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image
fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.
God has overlooked the times of ignorance,
but now he demands that all people everywhere repent
because he has established a day on which he will 'judge the world
with justice' through a man he has appointed,
and he has provided confirmation for all
by raising him from the dead."

When they heard about resurrection of the dead,
some began to scoff, but others said,
"We should like to hear you on this some other time."
And so Paul left them.
But some did join him, and became believers.
Among them were Dionysius,
a member of the Court of the Areopagus,
a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.

Gospel (Jn 16:12-15)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: People have ability to recognize God and His activities.

             

            God truly exists and reveals Himself to people through creation, redemption and revelation in the Scripture. Today readings emphasized on people’s ability to understand God’s truth. In the first reading, the author of the Acts reported Paul’s homily to the Athenians. Paul began with their faith and reverence in God to lead them to the needs of believing in Christ and repentance so that they can achieve the eternal life. In the Gospel, Jesus revealed to his disciples about the necessary of the Holy Spirit’s presence which he shall ask the Father to send him to them. The Holy Spirit shall enlighten them to understand all what Jesus said and lead them to the complete truth.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Paul’s homily to the Athenians at Areopagus.

1.1/ Paul began with their Hellenistic culture: For the preaching of the gospel to bear fruits, preachers need to understand the culture and custom of the nation which the gospel shall be preached to. The Greeks have a tradition to worship many gods and the Hellenistic tradition pays a special tradition to wisdom. The Greeks’ gods are beautifully carved in stones and have their own temples depending on local people’s belief. The wisdom of Hellenistic culture are expressed through their philosophers. Areopagus is a place where the wise used to gather to study the world’s philosophy. Paul knew all these and was carefully prepared his homily to sow the gospel in people who are searching wisdom. Standing in the midst of the Areopagus’ council, Paul praised them for their reverence of their gods and used this virtue to preach the gospel: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, 'To an Unknown God.' What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.”

1.2/ The main content of his homily: Paul wisely began with the similarities which his audience easily accept to the peculiar points of Christianity: “The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.”

            (1) Men have ability to know God: Paul emphasized that nature reveals God’s existence and providence. If people carefully observe and study nature, they shall recognize His existence: “He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.”

            - The need to have a correct understanding about God: "For in him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.'"

            - Paul attacked the worship of idols: "Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.”

            (2) The need for repentance, judgment and resurrection: There are the goals which Paul aimed at because he knew the Hellenistic tradition doesn’t believe in the repentance and the resurrection. First, Paul wanted them to recognize the reality of sins; people committed a sin because they didn’t recognize God though He revealed Himself to people in nature. He said, “God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent.”

            + Most of the ancient Greeks didn’t believe in repentance because they believed God is unchanged. If God changes to forgive people’s sins, He is no longer God and less power than people because they make him to change.

            + They don’t believe in judgment because they don’t believe in the next life and God is unchanged.

            + The Hellenistic tradition, especially the Epicureans, don’t believe in resurrection. To them, death is the end; death takes away all what people have. This is the reason when they heard Paul mentioned the resurrection of the dead, “some began to scoff, but others said, "We should like to hear you on this some other time."And so Paul left them.”

            The result of Paul’s preaching in Athens: The Acts reported: "Some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them."

2/ Gospel: People are equipped to understand God’s revelation.

2.1/ God’s revelation to men must be gradually with time because their knowledge is limited: Jesus knew this when he said, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” Unlike God, who has wisdom and knows everything as in present, people need to have time to study the basic before they can understand the advance. For example, a student must go through elementary, intermediate, high school before he can attend college. Similarly in revealing God’s mysteries to men, people must begin with the One God who creates and controls all things in the universe as revealed in the Old Testament before they can understand Christ in the mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption in the New Testament, and then, to the mystery of the Holy Spirit and all of his works as Jesus mentioned in today passage.

2.2/ The complete revelation is revealed by the Holy Spirit: Jesus promised to his disciples: “when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.”

            (1) The revelation comes from God: All truth come from God. People don’t own the truth, only discover them; they are God’s gift to men. People also don’t invent the truth; they already existed in the universe and waited to be discovered and understood by men. In a word, only God has the truth.

            (2) The Holy Spirit shall help people to understand what Christ revealed: This is the basic of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Jesus said, "He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” All three persons of the Trinity co-operate with other in helping people to understand God’s mysteries.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We are equipped with intellect to search for and to know the truth, especially to know God, the truth of all truth.

            - The truth of Christianity doesn’t come to people through abstract ideas, but through a living person who is Christ, and from the inside guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the more we live our relationship with Christ and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance the more we understand God’s mysteries.

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