First Reading: Acts 17:15. 22-18:1; Psalm: 148. R. v. 5a; Gospel: Jn 16:12-15
CONVERSION IS THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Paul’s approach in converting the people of Athens was similar to the approach of some early European missionaries who brought the Christian faith to Africa. The only difference was that Paul unlike some European missionaries did not entirely deny at least a minimal concept of God in the religious lives of the people of Athens. Paul observed that the Athenians erected an altar with an inscription “To an unknown god.” Leveraging on this, he tried to convince them that the Almighty God he was preaching to them about was actually this ‘unknown god’ they worshipped. But only that God does not live in shrines and does not depend on us neither is he represented by the work of art nor by the imagination of men.
Paul seemed to be making progress in his approach to converting these people but met his waterloo when he mentioned the resurrection of the dead. On hearing this, a large number of his listeners walked away and ridiculed all he said because of his demonstration on the belief of life after death. Generally, the Greeks (citizens of Athens) regarded the resurrection of the dead as unphilosopical and absurd. Paul must have been disappointed in this failed attempt. But the truth remains that conversion is a gradual process and the work of the Holy Spirit. Although many walked away but a few listened to Paul.
There are preachers who preach as though they are the ones who convert their listeners. This kind of preachers will always feel disappointed when not listened to because they feel that achieving conversion is their own making. Jesus said in the gospel of today that when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide us into all the truth. So, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the knowledge and the life of God to us; even to unbelievers too. It is God who converts and not the preacher. So when we make effort to change people, let us always remember that we are mere instruments that God uses to speak to people and that conversion is not our doing but the work of the Holy Spirit.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, may your Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts. Amen.