Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15)

A writer from San Antonio recalls an old Jewish doctor who took care of many Mexican, African, and white Americans in her barrio before World War II. Doc Stein was everyone’s friend and everyone’s healer. If someone worried about paying him back, he would say, “You should worry to pay me? You think maybe I want to become a millionaire? Pay me when you can.” He treated the soul as well as the body. “Just think only about getting well, and believe in ‘Gott’ and pray for health,” he would admonish his patients.

We might think of Gamaliel in the reading from Acts today as a Doc Stein kind of person. His unshakeable faith in God allows him to tolerate a budding competitor to his beloved Judaism without fluster. “…if it (Christianity) comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them,” he tells his fellow Jews. Perhaps as St. Paul’s teacher Gamaliel imparted the acumen and love for God that made his pupil the most efficacious of Christian apostles.

Gamaliel and Doc Stein together remind us that religious toleration may not go far enough. We are wise to learn what other religions teach and how they are practiced. As results of these efforts we are likely to sharpen our understanding of Catholic doctrine and to entertain deeper insights into prayer and virtuous living.