Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26a-16:4)
In today’s reading from Acts, Paul crosses the Hellespont into Europe. It is the beginning of a new frontier. The gospel evidently arrived in Rome through others apostles. But Paul, like Christopher Columbus in America, is the one whom history records as taking the monumental step.
Paul does not begin preaching in the marketplace before non-believers. Rather he goes on the Sabbath to a river clearing where local Jews habitually pray. He obviously figures that they would be the ones most likely to give him a fair hearing. His effort bears fruit. A female proselyte to Judaism becomes his first convert. It only can be speculated what draws her to Jesus. Perhaps it is his message of love for neighbor who included even one’s enemies. Maybe it is his courage to face opposition even to the point of death. Or perhaps it is the promise of eternal life that his resurrection makes him. It will never be known.
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 some meaning to our lives. Hopefully, we can say that Christ’s teachings draw us, his story engages inspires us, and his Holy Spirit has compelled our assent. Even more we believe because Christ promises eternal life and provides us the means to attain it.