SEEING “THE OTHERS”
“Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…” (Acts 17: 22-23)
St. Paul begins his famous Areopagus Sermon with the vital words, "I see..." And he goes on to make several observations, to the pagan Athenians, about their religiosity. So the great Apostle to the Gentiles first took the time to "see" and appreciate the mindset of his (mostly hostile) audience, noting also its good sides, before sharing quite a different sort of Good News with them. St. Paul's effort really to see “the others,” the Athenians, rather than simply dismissing their world-view from the outset, opens his heart to these people.
Today this wisdom of St. Paul reminds me first and foremost to note the good in those who disagree with me (in matters great or small), before engaging in dialogue with them. Because if my heart is closed to those with whom I’m speaking, then their hearts will – naturally – be closed to mine.