St. Paul’s New Evangelization

St. Paul preaching in the town square

“I alone have escaped to tell you.” The most heartbreaking sentence in the Bible.

Anyone know the context?

The sentence is uttered by messengers arriving to tell Job that all his property has been destroyed and all his family has been killed.

St. Paul speaking in the Areopagus offers us the mirror image of the tragic moments at the beginning of the book of Job.

To whom is St. Paul speaking? To the Athenians? To all the pagan peoples of the ancient Mediterranean? No: He speaks to mankind, to suffering mankind. We could say that he speaks to Job, insofar as Job is every human being who dwells in the shadow of death. And St. Paul’s message to Job teaches us how to advance the New Evangelization.

St. Paul acknowledges: Athenians, pagans, mankind—I see that you are religious. Facts confront you, namely: There is something, rather than nothing. Some force and power beyond our conception set the universe in motion and guides its course. We, intelligent animals—we have a special affinity for this great Almighty Power. We can seek to have a relationship with Him, to praise Him, and even to question Him in an effort to try and understand His mind.

ENGLISH VERSION OF YEAR OF FAITH LOGOOf course, to seek to know and understand the Almighty One can lead to pain, frustration, exhaustion, even despair. Because He is so altogether unknown. The flick of His wrist makes the earth quake and the mountains fall. He stands outside the course of human events, remote, unreachable, full of unknowable counsels and willing altogether mysterious ends.

So, dear inherently religious humans—St. Paul declares—I see into your souls. I see your insatiable yet frustrated religiousness. And I declare to you that something altogether wonderful has occurred. Events have occurred, and I have survived—I have lived—to tell you!

This very same Almighty Power, with whom you so desperately desire to live in harmony, yet don’t know how—Dear People, this God no longer stands outside our world. He does not hold Himself aloof from the course of our struggling lives. To the contrary! In Judea, He Himself became one of us and was born like you and I have been born!

I have lived to see it, and I am here to tell the tale! I have known the friendship of the God-man. I have seen in His face the countenance of the Almighty Father. This Messiah has suffered, He has died, He has risen again, and has ascended on high. He, Jesus of Nazareth, is the final judge of all things, the final arbiter—this meek and mild teacher of peace!

You, dear mankind—you have longings that end only in frustration without these facts. But the facts are real; I’m telling you the truth! The Unknown God has made Himself known, on earth, in Israel—Jesus.

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