Source: Vatican News
During his weekly General Audience with pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask the Holy Spirit, "for the capacity to gently inculturate the message of faith, placing a contemplative gaze on those who are ignorant of Christ."
The Holy Father advised people to "always build bridges, always reach out" - to never be aggressive towards those who do not believe or have a different creed from ours.
Reflecting on the passage in the Acts of the Apostles where St Paul preaches before the Areopagus in Athens, the cultural capital of the pagan world, Pope Francis said, in a city filled with idols, Paul proclaims the Gospel by appealing to the religiosity of his hearers and their desire to know the truth.
When St Paul sees an altar dedicated to an "unknown god", he states that God, the transcendent Creator of the world, has indeed made himself known, and sent his Son to call all people to conversion and the fullness of truth.
Yet, the Pope notes, that when Paul speaks of Christ's death and resurrection, his listeners lose interest and his words arouse mockery and derision in the eyes of the Greeks.
But as Pope Francis points out, St Paul's preaching does bear fruit in the conversion of some Athenians, including Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris, who open themselves up to the faith.
Concluding his catechesis, the Pope invited the faithful to ask the Holy Spirit, "for the capacity to gently inculturate the message of faith, placing a contemplative gaze on those who are ignorant of Christ, moved by a love that warms even the most hardened hearts."
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