SAINT JOHN I, POPE AND MARTYR (OPTIONAL MEMORIAL)
Lydia . . . listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.
Something remarkable happens in today’s first reading (Acts 16:11 – 15). As Paul is preaching the gospel, an established businesswoman, “a dealer in purple cloth,” comes to believe in Jesus (Acts 16:14). She very quickly seeks baptism for herself and her household. Then she opens her home to Paul and his companions. In fact, she insists that they stay with her!
A lot happens in just these few verses, so let’s try to take a closer look. We know that Lydia, although not a Jew, worshipped the God of Israel. We can assume that God had already been at work in her heart, turning her away from the false gods of paganism. So when Paul began speaking about Jesus, she already had some understanding, which allowed God to open her heart even more. Just as important, these verses reveal Lydia’s habit of listening carefully and thinking through what Paul was saying. It took both God prompting her to be open and Lydia listening closely to bring her to baptism.
God wants to open our hearts further as well. He wants us to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are loved, forgiven, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to build his kingdom. As he was with Lydia, he is always at work in our lives, always looking for ways to soften our hearts. But he needs us to be open and willing to listen to what he wants to say to us.
Yes, God works wonders, but we also have a part to play. If you want to hear God’s voice, imitate Lydia’s habit of listening closely. You don’t have to strain anxiously to hear his word. Rather, adopt a position of trust and humility. Be ready to stop whatever you are doing and pay close attention when you think God might be trying to say something to you.
Paul and his companions were just looking for a place to pray when they came upon Lydia and her friends. We never know when or where God will speak to us. May we always be alert and ready to respond when he does!
“Lord, give me the grace to hear what you want to reveal to me.”
Psalm 149:1-6, 9