Homily for Monday of the 6th Week of Easter

When he first arrived in Europe, St. Paul was faced with many new challenges and many new possibilities as well. While working in Asia Minor (now Syria and Turkey), he had been beset by Jewish Christians who challenged his credentials as an Apostle and contradicted his understanding of the gospel. After crossing to Macedonia (now northern Greece), he began a peaceful chapter in his ministry. On reaching the city of Philippi, St. Paul was kindly welcomed by a wealthy businesswoman named Lydia, who offered her home to the missionaries as a working base of sorts.

St. Paul fell in love with the Church he founded in Philippi. His later epistle to them is one of the heartfelt of his writings. He wrote: “I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for you… For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus!”1 His willingness to use Lydia’s house as his base during his stay in Philippi helps to correct any notion that Paul was a misogynist, unable to relate to women. One could say that the first house-church in Europe was presided over by a woman and that Lydia should be acknowledged as a saint.+

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