Today’s excerpt from the Book of Acts presents St. Paul in the midst of his missionary adventures. He is making his way westward, into Greece, a trajectory that will eventually ensure that the Gospel is proclaimed throughout the whole world!
While on his mission a woman named Lydia accepts Paul’s invitation to know Christ in his Church, and as she is a wealthy woman of considerable means, she invites Paul to stay with her. Paul accepts Lydia’s hospitality.
Lydia’s gratitude to Paul expresses itself in generosity. Paul has given her something greater than anything that her personal fortune could ever buy- a relationship with Christ in his Church.
How thankful are we for the faith that we have received, for the Sacraments of the Church, for the apostolic teaching, for our unique, Christian way of life? Remember, our faith is always a gift, we did not, could not earn it or purchase it, nor do we deserve what Christ gives to us. How do we show ourselves to be people of gratitude, a people of generosity?
Do we give only out of self-interest or for the sake of personal gain? Or are we willing to give to others in imitation of Christ, who gave gifts to those whom he knew could not or would not ever be able to return the favor?
Christ in his Gospel testifies that his disciples will know persecution. The worldly will hear in the Gospel what they do not want to hear. The wicked knowing that they cannot harm Christ, will seek to harm those whom Christ loves. Christians will always be a sign of contradiction in a world that privileges and favors wealth, pleasure, power and honors.
Thus, being a disciple of the Lord Jesus is not for the faint of heart. It demands courage and conviction. It makes us different, even strange and off putting- more human, rather than less. And in a world that is so often inhumane, more human can be taken as an affront.
To be a Christian is not an easy way, but it is the way that God wants. It always leads to him, even if the way to him takes us through the cross.