The three readings of today are from Acts, Psalms, and John. The Acts reading is about a female cloth vendor named Lydia and her conversion in Philippi. The Psalms reading is a song of King David, praising God and telling of the joy of being his servant. Lastly, the John readings are about the Holy Spirit and some of what testifying about Jesus entails. The common theme of today's readings is the work of God according to Jesus's Great Commission (which can be found in Matthew 28:19-20).
Let us start with the Gospel. Jesus is speaking and simply says that he will send the Spirit of Truth or the Counselor to us. By the term, 'Spirit of Truth,' Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit. He continues to say that we, as his followers, must follow the Holy Spirit’s example of testifying about Jesus. He predicates this with a warning of a time in which godless men will consider persecution of saints a service to God.
The responsorial psalm gives some reassurance; it reads, “. . .to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints.” The reading from Acts is a story of people being blessed for being missionaries for God. In Acts, Paul and some other Apostles, while staying in the Roman colony of Philippi, look for a place to pray, but serendipitously they are given the opportunity to minister and preach to women. Among the women is Lydia, “a dealer of purple cloth.” Upon hearing their message, “The Lord opened her heart” and she blessed the Apostles by welcoming them into her home. Lydia’s conversion is an encouraging story because it shows three things: (1) that everything works out according to God’s plan. The apostles were simply looking for a place to pray; God additionally grants them an opportunity to share the Gospel. (2) Secondly, we succeed, not based on our own merit, rather God moves through us to succeed. The Apostles did not change Lydia; God opened her heart to be responsive to his message. (3) Lastly, God will bless us when we serve him. For a female to be involved in business, she must have had a significant amount of social power. Her home must have been comfortable. She blessed the travelling Apostles as guests to her home.
There is something comforting about these readings, but there is something that is kind of scary as well. In the reading from John there is a promise of persecution and suffering. The Psalms reading refers to it too. But despite this, God sends us a Counselor to help us serve him and, as seen in the story of Lydia, will always be there with us while we live as missionaries for him. The bottom line though, is that we should live for the mission of God.
Editor's Note: This is Gordon's last Student Daily Reflection with us, as he celebrated his graduation a few weeks ago. Please keep him in your prayers as he moves into the next phase of his life.