“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.'" Acts 17:22
Looking carefully at what others believe and listening openly to how they understand God and their faith not only honors them, it honors God. Showing reverence to people and faiths that are different than ours can be a prayer. When St Paul took time to look around Athens and marvel at its shrines, the Greeks knew he was interested, not just in telling them about his Lord and Savior, but in acknowledging their own spiritual quest.
The Second Vatican Council reminded Catholics of Paul's awe while in Athens in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Encouraging Catholics to reimagine their relationship with the modern world by remembering first their shared humanity with every other person, the Council asked believers to show compassion for all: "The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well."
Living this mandate in the 21st century can radically alter how we live our faith. Especially in the United States, where we have been politically powerful for so long, there can be a tendency to protect our economic and political gains but forget that the hungry, the homeless and refugees. The poor and afflicted are not first Palestinians, Sudanese or Pakistani's but people who have been stripped of every human right. The Gospel and the Second Vatican Council beg us to see others, not as competitors with whom we must struggle, but as members of our family, and when we do this, everything changes.
Today, pray to be united in spirit with all the needy.
How do you understand our relationship as Catholics with people around the world/