Friday of the Second Week of Easter
(Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15)
The gospels regularly portray the Pharisees as sinister. Because of this, the word “Pharisee” has come to mean duplicitous. If someone calls another a Pharisee, the other would want to defend herself. But the gospels mention a couple of Pharisees worthy of commendation. Nicodemus is a Pharisee who comes to Jesus to learn. In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, a Pharisees distinguishes himself for showing wisdom.
Gamaliel does not so much defend Peter and the Apostles as demonstrate good sense. He points out that popular religious movements often rise and fall quickly. He says that it would be a mistake to persecute Christians who may pass from the scene soon. Rather, he recommends, they should be tolerated and then judged by their fruits. If they bring about blessings, they obviously have God’s blessing. On the other hand, if they only raise high expectations, the people will tire soon enough of empty promises.
We should heed Gamaliel’s wisdom in regard to people of other beliefs. Some people often want to tell us about their vision of God. Unless they are a priest or a theology professor, we do not want to give them much time. However, we might listen to them for at least a few minutes. Perhaps they have a genuine spiritual insight. We might do the same for television and radio evangelists. They too may tell us something worthwhile about our Lord.