Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reflection for the 6th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Lydia

Lydia was really quite a remarkable woman. A resident of Philippi but originally from Thyatira, Lydia was a Gentile, but she was also a God-fearer, someone who had discovered the Jewish faith, recognized truth in it, and practiced it to the extent that she could as a woman and a Gentile. She knew the God of the Jews; she worshiped Him; and she loved Him.

Lydia was also a business woman. She was a dealer in purple cloth, which was a luxury item in the ancient world. She was probably fairly wealthy and influential in her community.

She also had a wide open heart. So when she heard Paul speak about Jesus Christ and the salvation He brought to the world, she was deeply touched. She realized that this message contained everything she had ever wanted, everything she was trying to find in Judaism. Her heart embraced Paul's words, and she was filled with faith in Jesus. Lydia was baptized immediately along with her whole household, and she offered Paul and his companions her hospitality.

We can imagine that Lydia's Christian journey continued long after Paul left Philippi. She was in a prime position to spread the Gospel through her business dealings and her status in the community, and we can be sure this strong, smart woman did just that with great love for Jesus, His Church, and the world.

Tuesday – Kerygma

In our first reading today, we have a prime example of the Christian kerygma, i.e., the basic Christian message of salvation, the heart of the Gospel. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians of several key facts:

1. “Christ died for our sins...”
2. This happened “in accordance with the Scriptures...” In other words, Old Testament foretold the sacrificial death of the Messiah.
3. Christ was buried. He was really dead and in the tomb.
4. Christ rose from the dead on the third day.
5. He appeared to His apostles and disciples, including five hundred of them at one time.
6 Eye witnesses to those appearances are still alive at the time Paul writes, and they can verify his words.
7. Christ appeared to Paul.

These are some of the basics of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ really died to save us and rose again. This is a fact confirmed by witnesses. This kerygma is designed to spark faith in people. When that spark is kindled, it can grow into a flame that leads to deeper knowledge (i.e., of Christ's divinity, the Trinity, etc.) and to the sacraments, in which believers receive sanctifying grace, the indwelling presence of God Himself deep within their souls.

Wednesday – The Spirit of Truth

Jesus had so much He wanted to tell His disciples, but they weren't ready for it yet. They didn't have the capacity to understand, and He didn't want to overwhelm them. So before He died He gave them a promise: “But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.”

The Spirit, Jesus continued, would speak to them what He had heard. The disciples didn't realize it yet, but the Spirit, as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, was privy to the entire inner life of God, and He heard and knew all. He was certainly well qualified to pass on to them whatever they needed to know.

The Spirit would proclaim things to come, explain things past and present, and declare the revelation of the Father and the Son. Jesus explained, “He will glorify Me, because He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine...” Therefore, the Spirit would show the disciples a glimpse of the very inner workings and life of the Trinity.

And that's exactly what happened. The Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost and changed them. He poured truth into their hearts and gave the understanding and courage to proclaim it to the world. He does the same for us if we open our minds, hearts, and souls to Him. He is truly our Spirit of truth.

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