May 17, 2020 – Monday of the 6th Week of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051820.cfm)
“Lydia” is a very popular name among women. Lydia with its Greek origin, actually means “kind.” And among the many Lydias I met, there was one particular Lydia that I could not forget.
I met “Nanay Lydia,” as what she was commonly called by many, in one of my mission areas when I was still a seminarian. Nanay Lydia was a simple old woman, widowed but surrounded by her children and grandchildren who loved he very much. Despite her poverty, she was the first one to offer her humble home to accommodate us, missionaries.
It was in her home that I experienced, that joy and contentment in life is very possible even with less material things but filled with love. She was very much cherished by her children and grandchildren. She was highly respected by their neighbors. And as I stayed in her humble house for few days, I received so much kindness from her.
“Kindness expressed in her grateful response to people around her was her way of life.”
This attitude from Nanay Lydia is found in her knowledge of the Lord. Her knowledge of the Lord was not out of theological studies but through her experiences of pain and joy, sorrow and comfort, and of death and life. And according to her, she brought all these experiences always into her prayers. This was how she would see things clearly, feel and be comforted of God’s presence in her life. Through her prayers, she listened to God, who also opened her heart.
This woman reminds me of another Lydia, whom the Acts of the Apostles speaks today. Lydia was one of the women who listened to Paul’s preaching. She was particularly described as a God-fearing woman. However, what was more interesting was her attitude to Paul’s preaching. She listened.
She welcomed what Paul was saying and by doing that, the Lord opened her heart. It was not her who opened her heart to the Lord. That small inclination from her “in listening” allowed the Lord to come into her heart and opened her heart.
And when the Lord opened her heart, she began to see clearly how God worked in her life through the preaching of Paul. As a response, she asked for baptism, meaning, she wanted to commit her life to the Lord who opened her heart. Her commitment now was transformed into a generous and grateful action. She welcomed the Apostles, Paul and his companions into her home.
This is how the Gospel of John is being unfolded to us today also. The Spirit of Truth that Lydia received made her a witness of God’s kindness. Because of the kindness that she experienced from Jesus, reflected in her name, Lydia, she too was inspired to become a witness of that kindness. Her generous and hospitable action to Paul and his companions was a grateful response to God’s kindness.
This is the invitation for us today. We are also called to allow the Lord to open our hearts. It is when we listen to God speaking to us through our Sacraments in the Church, through the Bible, through our experiences and daily affairs with the world, that we allow God to challenge us to see God’s surprises in our life.
Hopefully, as we allow God to open our heart, then, we too will be moved to become a witness of God’s kindness, or goodness or faithfulness to others. Thus, let that be expressed in our actions and words as we struggle today to live in this prolonged community quarantine. This kind of witnessing is very much needed today. This very difficult situation may inspire us then, to become true witnesses of the Resurrected Christ. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR