Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is one of those passages that makes us feel at home in the Church. It makes us feel we are part of the group that followed Paul outside the city of Phillipi. Along with them we walk along the river looking for a suitable place for prayer; and we happen upon Lydia and the others who had found the ideal spot ahead of us. Luke identified them as worshippers of God, which was what they called non-Jews who accepted the Prophets and who lived by the Ten Commandments.
Lydia was described as a dealer in purple cloth come from Thyatira. A century ago some scholars pointed out that since purple dye comes from squid, and since Thyatira was an inland town, there had never been any dealing in purple there, and Luke’s story was a fiction.. They used those facts to discredit the whole narrative of the Acts of the Apostles. Since then it has come to light that in Paul’s time the place name Thyatira belonged to an Aegean island that did a thriving business in purple dyes.
Lydia insisted that Paul and his companions accept her hospitality while they met with people in Phillipi. Paul, who always supported himself and his team by plying his trade of tent making, gave in just this one time to an insistence that he accept hospitality. Ever afterwards Phillipi had a special place in his heart.