Chapter 17 begins with Paul getting to Thessalonica. I find it interesting the argument against Christianity is that the Apostles and early Christians were against women and their rights – that somehow they were suppressing women. Yet in verse 4 a great number of “prominent women” were converting. Not only were there many women, but they specifically say that they were prominent women who converted. Because they were prominent, these women were educated and had a sense of independence. It makes me think about what could have made these women take notice of the Christian faith. What would make independent women think about believing in Jesus and joining the Church? Perhaps they never felt suppressed. In fact, at that time, the Faith in Jesus honored women.
Women in the church were treated as equals and understood to be equals. But equality may not be the same as the agenda driven critics of the Catholic Church. Today, many with agendas may think equality as the same, so in order for there to be equality between men and women, they must be the same. But when you look at the definition of “equals,” you will not find the idea of “same.” Rather, equal refers to value, not same. So women and men are in fact different. That is why many think men are from Mars and women are from Venus. How men and women think is very different, but they both have the same value. Both are necessary for the betterment of society. There are so many people with so many gifts.
Have you ever seen the smile of a Down syndrome child? The power of that kind of smile I would think could power many power plants. Such smiles never fail to restore peace and joy to many souls. There is no human being that could possibly be of lesser value than any other. There are no sub-humans in the Catholic Church. Yet there may be many who oppose the Church who want you to think so. Every human being from the womb to the tomb is of precious value. For Jesus came to die for them, such is His value of them.
But for those who oppose the true value that Jesus has on humanity, they are without shame. Paul goes to another town, and the people who cannot stand his teaching do not want to have others believe, even if they are not people whom they would otherwise converse with. No, they have to follow him and spread their lies in Beroea and disrupt the faith (v10-15). Today also there are people who do not want the faith to be lived. Some may pretend to be Christian, but their faith is dead. God knows them. Do not be disturbed by them. They will go back to their father (Jn 8:44). We will go to our Father (Jn 17:24).
Paul ends up in Athens and gives a great discourse – I encourage you to read it (v22-34). But most of the people miss the point and do not convert. The Bible mentions two believers in particular and say a few others believe. The people of Athens are too interested in their own little world and way of thinking. They scoff at the idea of the resurrection. Others say they are interested, but want to put it off, probably hoping to never see him again. But Paul does not get downhearted with all the difficulties.
Everywhere Paul turns there is a struggle and people following him around trying to keep him from bearing fruit. The devil is frantically trying to undo everything Paul is trying to accomplish. But it is all God’s work, not Paul’s. To Paul, the message is for those who “Have ears to hear” (Mk 4:1-12). So he entrusts them to God. It is an invitation that all must answer. Have you answered your invitation?