St. Paul often shows himself as a gifted preacher. Nowhere, in my opinion, is this as apparent as in chapter 17 of the Acts of the Apostles when he is speaking in Athens. I can almost hear him this morning proclaiming – quite loudly, I suspect, since the only “sound system” came from the walls of the Areopagus:
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. The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for God and find him, though indeed God is not far from any one of us. For ‘in him we live and move and have our being,’ even as some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’
As I try to live every day out of the realization that I live and move and have my being in God, occasionally I am struck in a deeper way by that reality, as last evening when I joined over 600 people to celebrate a group of extraordinary men and women who personify the theme of “Radical Empathy” in their lives and ministry. Coming from all walks of life and faith traditions, these five individuals and two married couples have given themselves to service to “the neighbor” wherever and in whatever ways they experienced the inner movement toward the love that is the foundation of the world. I am grateful to have been in the company, not only of those individuals, but also in a room that was a microcosm of world cultures where radical empathy is seen each day in those who give and receive under the umbrella of Interfaith Works, the sponsoring organization of last evening’s event. Moments like that remind me that God “made from one the whole human race” and that it is our responsibility and privilege to recognize our oneness, living as “offspring” of the Divine. And what could be better than that!