(Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15)
A Jewish immigrant doctor in San Antonio took care of many Mexican, African, and white Americans before World War II. Doc Stein was everyone’s friend and healer. If someone worried about money to pay him back, he would tell him or her: “You should worry to pay me? You think maybe I want to become a millionaire? Pay me when you can.” And he treated the soul as well as the body by admonishing his patients: “Just think only about getting well, and believe in Gott and pray for health.”
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. As St. Paul’s teacher, Gamaliel perhaps imparted the acumen for Scripture and the love for God that made his star 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 a result of these efforts we are likely to better fulfill Jesus’ command to love our neighbors.