Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

(Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26a-16:4)

In today’s reading from Acts, Paul, evidently accompanied by the author of Acts whom we know as St. Luke, cross the Hellespont into Europe. It is the beginning of a new frontier. Although the gospel arrived in Rome through others apostles, Paul, like Christopher Columbus arriving in America, is the one whom history records as taking the monumental step.

Interestingly, Paul does not begin preaching in the marketplace before non-believers but goes on the Sabbath to a river where Jews habitually pray. He obviously figures that they would most likely give him a fair hearing. His effort bears fruit. We are not surprised that a woman is the first one of his converts mentioned. Lydia is a Greek proselyte of Judaism. We may speculate regarding what about Jesus attracts her to him. Perhaps it was his message of love for neighbor who included even one’s enemies. Maybe it was his courage to face opposition even to the point of death. Perhaps it was the promise that his resurrection gives to those who believe in him. We will never know.

But we can examine our own motives for belief. It would be disappointing to hear that we espouse Christianity only because our families do or because it connects us to important people or even because it gives meaning to our lives. Hopefully we can say that Christ’s teaching draws us, his story engages our attention, and his Holy Spirit has compelled our assent. We believe because Christ promises us eternal life and provides the means to attain it.