In the first reading, we hear how St. Paul travels to Europe, where he meets a businesswoman named Lydia. And what began as a normal day by the river turned into a life-changing spiritual encounter for Lydia and her family. St. Luke tells us that God opened Lydia’s heart to Paul’s preaching, and she became his first European convert to Christianity. From this point on, Lydia’s life would now be characterized by a loving, life-giving relationship with God.
This is the very nature of conversion: God touches our hearts and makes us aware of his love, our sinfulness, and our need for his mercy. This awareness moves us to turn towards him so that he can begin a process of teaching and empowering us to embrace his goodness and to reject the glamour of evil.
While the story of Lydia is short, we can be sure that it didn’t end where St. Luke leaves it. Lydia’s conversion not only prompted her to accept Baptism; it also moved her to welcome Paul and his companions into her home. The Catechism teaches us that such an act of generosity shows that “conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures, and works of penance” (CCC 1430). It also shows that conversion is not just a one-time event but rather a lifelong process. It involves continually being open to God and bearing good fruit as we learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
As God continues to help us to open our hearts to him, we are transformed little by little. The most important changes we experience don’t come as a result of big, spectacular events but from the ordinary events of our daily lives. We leave behind the marks of our old life as selfishness gives way to service, wasted time becomes an opportunity for prayer, and the approval of God eclipses human praise. So let us keep the door of our hearts wide open to God so we can be remoulded into his image.