We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
I can see why Saint Ignatius loved using his imagination in prayer and in reading scripture. (In fact, his imagination helped foster his conversion.) Today’s reading from the book of Acts really captivates mine. I can picture the scene: a group of bright-faced, cheerful, tired disciples approaching a glistening waterfront, where the local women come together and visit. On this day, their lives would change forever. It was the sabbath. The tension and beauty is palpable. The Lord enters the scene, meeting them right as they are, like Jesus did when he called his disciples: fishing, collecting taxes, under a fig tree, minding their daily affairs.
I picture Lydia as a beautiful, if not slightly intimidating woman. She was probably a savvy businesswomen; she sold purple cloth, a luxury good at that time. Was Paul hesitant to approach her? Did she size him up? What were their first words? What would that scene look like today? What’s also striking about this story is how it ends: with Lydia’s conversion, gratitude and desire to serve.
How grateful are you to God for his blessings? How do you serve him in return?
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and not to seek reward,
Except that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.
—Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola for Generosity. Click here to download the prayer card.
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