But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared.
After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”
They were convinced by him, and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Here the Apostles are once again encountering pushback for preaching the Good News about Jesus. But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, stands up and essentially warns them that nothing is going to stop God’s grace, and that they may find themselves fighting against God. How often do we find ourselves fighting God? Yet when we reflect we can see how God’s grace pushes through our stubbornness, reminding us of our need for God.
This reminds me of the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises where Ignatius says that all our sin and pushing back against God has not caused the Saints to stop praying for us nor the earth to open and swallow us up. Despite the imperfections of the early apostles, God used them to spread the Good News far and wide. And as modern day apostles, our imperfect holiness will not impede God’s love and grace from pushing through.
God of constant presence, free my stubborn heart so that it may be open to your flow of grace. I do not wish to fight you. Push through the walls I build so that as your disciple I may be used to share your love with the world. Amen.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!