What first caught my ear in the first reading for yesterday from Acts 17:16 – 23 was the question, “What does this babbler wish to say?” The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers characterize him as a chattering bird picking up seeds of ideas, slogans, scraps of learning and then espousing half-backed ideas.
The Epicureans believed that happiness was attained by living like the gods who had no concern for humans but lived in a state of blissful tranquility not shaken by poverty, pain, and fear. At death the soul disintegrated, and that was the end.
The Stoics believed that virtue was the only good and vice the only evil. Suppress the passions and live by reason, then law that pervades the universe.
Others, thought he was a preacher of two foreign divinities one named Jesus and the other Anastasis (Resurrection). So, it is today that the preaching of the gospel of Jesus’ resurrection is often heard differently than the preacher intends. People find reincarnation more appealing than Resurrection.
The entrance verses from Psalm 119 give us guidance and encouragement in the face of society’s doubt and misunderstanding, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”