Monday 23 May 2022 6th week of Eastertide
Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that particular district of Macedonia. After a few days in this city we went along the river outside the gates as it was the sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptised she sent us an invitation: ‘If you really think me a true believer in the Lord,’ she said ‘come and stay with us’; and she would take no refusal.
Psalm 149 The Lord takes delight in his people.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness. And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset. ‘I have told you all this that your faith may not be shaken. They will expel you from the synagogues, and indeed the hour is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy duty for God. They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or myself. But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you.’
Lydia invites Paul and Timothy after her household has been baptised: “come and stay with us”. I am reminded of the moment in John 1:39 when Jesus invited his disciples, ‘“Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him.’
At a recent SEDOS seminar, I heard Professor Sr. Maria Ha Fong Ko, FMA, from the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, Rome, speaking on “How did Jesus form his disciples to become missionary?”. She suggested there are three movements in the biblical understanding of mission: Come, Remain, Go. Taking those three movements in the context of today’s readings, I have these thoughts.
We hear the invitation to come. We come as a response to an invitation. Rarely do we come when we have not been invited, to do so might be considered quite rude in many cultures. And we respond to Jesus’ invitation because there is something to see, something to know, something that attracts us about him. We respond to the personal invitation he gives to us.
But we’re not only invited to come. We are asked to stay, to remain, to abide in him. He doesn’t want us just to come he wants a relationship of intimacy with us, so that he can affect our live, shape us, teach us, and mold us. In staying with him we learn his ways, we learn about him, we become a disciple of the master and in that relationship, we learn how to imitate him, just as a master tradesman teaches an apprentice who follows him around for some years, doing as he does. Remember Jesus says, “And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset.”
It is only after we know Jesus and his ways that we can be sent out. We have learnt how to listen the ways of his spirit, how to discern the pathways to follow and those not to follow. And it is in this third movement that we give witness not to ourselves but to the Father of the Master who taught us. That witness will bring reactions from those who do not know either the teacher nor his ways, or the One who taught the Master.
So here we have in the Acts of the Apostles the repetition by the disciple Lydia of the words of the Master himself, “Come and stay”. And this invitation is what we as disciples in our own time continue to offer to those we meet.