Wednesday — Sixth Week of Easter
||Acts 17:15,22 - 18:1
In today’s first reading, Paul delivered his one and only philosophical discourse. He uses all the right techniques of rhetoric, eloquence, and allusions to Greek authors and Greek culture. He was speaking to the cultured intelligentsia of Athens, the men of the Areopagus. And the sermon fell flat! It was devastating. When Paul mentioned the resurrection of the dead, the closed-minded Greeks tuned him out and turned him off. (Greek philosophy and culture considered all material things as evil, and only spirit as good. Humans were a sort of contradiction: the spiritual soul was imprisoned in a material body. Greeks thought that death was a liberation of this spiritual soul to contemplate the good and the true. To them, resurrection – putting the spiritual soul back into the material body – was nonsense.)
This disastrous experience was enough for Paul. From that time on, he resolved never to use mere human “wisdom” or philosophy or eloquence. He would preach only Jesus Christ and him crucified. In our modern world we may make use of various techniques. But we must always remember that faith is a gift. We do not gain converts by argument or eloquence, but by radiating the good new in our lives: the good news that Jesus died for our sins, rose for our justification, and gives us a share in his glory.