Monday, May 22, 2017

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, 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 landing in America, is the one credited for taking the gospel to Europe.

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 hearing.  His hunch bears out.  We should not be surprised that a woman is the first one of his converts.  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.  Or it might have been the promise of resurrection 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 fills us with expectation of eternal life, and his Holy Spirit has compelled our assent.