Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Daily Thought For May 4, 2016

The "Unknown" God

In the opening paragraph of his encyclical Faith and Reason, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself.” Today’s first reading depicts the Athenians as a people who earnestly desired to rise to that contemplation of truth, and it tells us how Paul offered them the good news as a way to strengthen their “faith wing.”

In the time of Paul, the city of Athens was full of temples and shrines to various deities. Using human reason, the Greeks came to the correct, but incomplete, conclusion that there was a vast spiritual realm that we can’t fully see or comprehend. Their society was built on the idea that a people would thrive so long as they kept the gods happy and be punished if they did not. So a sense of fear became a built-in part of their spirituality. They were so anxious about keeping every single god happy that they erected a shrine—probably several, according to archaeologists—to an “Unknown God,” in case they had left anyone out (Acts 17:23).

Notice how gracious Paul is—and how smart. Instead of accusing the Greeks of idolatry, he commends their search for the truth. Then he uses their concept of an unknown god to introduce a new idea: this god has made himself known—and he is the one true God! Not only that, but he has stepped out of the shadows to walk with us.

Recalling this story highlights the miracle of the Incarnation, the miracle of God making himself known to us in a personal way. God saw our longing for the truth, so he sent Jesus to come be with us and to show us the truth. He is no longer unknown. In everything he said and did, especially in his cross and resurrection, Jesus revealed the invisible, all-powerful God. And wonder of wonders, he showed us that God is our Father, our Redeemer, and our Friend!


“Thank you, Jesus, for showing me the face of God. Help me know how close you are today.”

Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)