Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seeing the good

In the first reading today Paul gives us a model not just for evangelization, but for living.

The average person from Paul's culture would have looked at the Greeks and seen only pagans, pagans worshiping idols. Many raised in his strict Jewish tradition would have found it outrageous to even think of that as religion. There is only one God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Paul not always known as a man of tact stands up in the Areopagus and instead of a diatribe against idolatry, he begins acknowledging that they are a very religious people. He shows respect for what they believe. He starts by finding the points of agreement. His approach is: I see you have a statue to an unknown God, let me tell you who it is?

How different that is from is the the binary, win/lose, approach we so often take in our families, at work and in our public discourse. Without even thinking about it we treat life as a game in which we are all individual competitors.

Technology has made it worse, because now with cable and the Internet, I can choose to watch, listen to and read only the people who think like me. We see our society becoming more fragmented and polarized. We talk about each other and at each other, but not with each other.

We need the model of Paul now. We need to return to our Christian roots, to see the good in the other. Before we argue can we begin by acknowledging the points of agree, what we have in common. Can we go all the way back to chapter one of Genesis and remember that we are one human family.