06May 6 May, 2013. Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Acts 16:11ff. When Paul arrives in Philippi, Lydia is the first to welcome the Gospel, the first European Christian.

Jn 15:26ff. The Holy Spirit will support us in whatever trials may come – this is Jesus’ farewell promise.

First Reading: Acts 16:11-15

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

Gospel: John 15:26-16:4

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.

The first European Christians

Summoned by a vision to come to Macedonia (northern Greece), Paul stepped into a period of notable success in his apostolic life. In Greece, he soon arrived in the city of Philippi and was graciously received by a wealthy woman named Lydia, who offered the use of her home as his working base. He fell in love with his newly founded Philippian church. His epistle to them is among the most emotional of his writings, including: “I give thanks to my God every time I think of you, which is constantly, in every prayer I utter, rejoicing, as I plead on your behalf, at the way you have all continually helped promote the gospel from the very first day … I hold all of you dear … God himself can testify how much I long for each of you with the affection of Christ Jesus! (Phil 1:3-8).

Today’s account of Paul’s first days at Philippi can help correct the notion that he was a misogynist. If he had been fiercely anti-feminist, how would a woman as sophisticated and discerning as the wealthy merchant Lydia have been won to Christianity by Paul’s preaching and then have offered him the use of her house as a meeting place for new converts?

Like Paul, many believers have experienced alternating periods of suffering and then of peace and serenity. It is the Spirit who prompts all good actions and consoles those in sorrow, who comes to us from the Father and bears witness on behalf of Jesus.