The reading from the Acts of the Apostles today indicates some of the reason for the tremendous growth of the Church in the early years, just after the Resurrection of Jesus. Paul and his companions were certainly faithful to the task of bringing the message of Christ to the peoples of the Gentile world. But, the Acts of the Apostles clearly demonstrate the Holy Spirit's movement in making the message of Christ come alive in people's hearts.
Witness Lydia, a Gentile businesswoman, who was praying with other women in a place known to be devoted to prayer. Paul and his companion sit down and talk to the women. Lydia is "a worshiper of God," someone who was open to the ways that God deals with her. And, sure enough, "the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul." That openness of Lydia is the key to her conversion and to the ways that the Spirit moved in the early church.
The point of this meeting seems to be to confirm that the Spirit of God is constantly in action offering people opportunities to move closer to the Reign of God. Thus we find Lydia a model of openness-and -response to God; she was ready to hear what Paul had to say and the Lord saw to it that she heard. Her status as an important figure in the early Church attests to her openness.
May we all be as open to the Spirit as Lydia was. Am I alert to the ways that God is speaking in my life? Do I operate more out of prejudice rather than really hearing another and being open to him or her? These and similar questions can call us up short, but they can also lead us to that kind of openness Lydia models in today's reading. The Holy Spirit usually invites rather than condemns. Let us all be open enough to hear the Spirit's invitations in our lives!
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