December 27, 2009 - Lydia

During the course of what is often referred to as “Paul’s Second Missionary Journey,” St. Paul and his companions stopped in a Roman colony called Philippi, known to be the foremost city of the district of Macedonia.   St. Luke relates in Acts 16:13-15,

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.  We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.  “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.”  And she persuaded us.

It’s apparent from Luke’s description of Lydia that she was a Gentile who – like many other noble women in the book of Acts, – had come to believe in the one true God proclaimed by the Jews.  What joy she must have experienced when she finally understood in Paul’s preaching, that Jesus Christ had come to fulfill all of the Old Testament Scriptures about the true God and His promise of a Messiah. 

The Lord opened Lydia’s heart.  And in turn she opened her heart to the needs of others.  She was not baptized alone, but saw to it that the members of her household were also baptized!  She befriended her Christian teachers, and opened her heart to them by offering, or actually insisting, that they become her houseguests.  

In short time, Lydia would have realized that being a Christian included unforeseen difficulties.  While staying in her home, Paul and Silas had a run-in with a crowd regarding a slave girl who was able to predict the future until Paul “exorcised” her.  As the apostles sat in jail (until God provided them with a miraculous release), Lydia’s heart remained open to them and to their preaching.  St. Luke records in the last verse of Acts 16:  After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. 

St. Paul and the others “brothers” were undoubtedly grateful to Lydia for her hospitality.  But there is no doubt that Lydia realized that it was she who was the more blessed by the arrangement.  What a wonderful example Lydia is to us, that our hearts should be inclined to invite and harbor the sound of the Gospel in our own homes!

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