Friday, April 17, 2015

God Will Prevail

By Colleen O’Sullivan

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time, and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men…  I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.  For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”  (Acts 5:34-35, 38-39a)

Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.  (Proverbs 19:21)

Gamaliel, the learned scholar and teacher of St. Paul, is a person I would like to have met.  Was he simply very wise when it came to the ways of human nature or was he beginning to suspect there might be some truth to all that Peter and the other apostles were proclaiming in the streets of Jerusalem?   In any case, he advised the other members of the Sanhedrin not to put the apostles to death.  Don’t create an uproar for nothing.  If there’s no truth to their preaching and you ignore them, they will soon fade away.  On the other hand, if what they say is from God, you will be battling the Lord himself.
I like the message implicit in Gamaliel’s words.  You can fight God, and throughout the ages there have been many people who’ve done just that, but God will always prevail.  God sent the Light into the world and the darkness that often surrounds us will never have the last word.  Sometimes, when I read or watch the news, I have to remind myself of that. 
Fifteen years ago, I had never heard of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS or al-Shabab.  Now, I am reminded as I am writing this that this is the first anniversary of the kidnapping of hundreds of teenage girls from their school in the primarily Christian village of Chibok in Nigeria.  The families of most of those girls have no idea where they are or if they’ll ever see their daughters again.  I cannot get out of my head the barbaric beheadings of Christians at the hands of ISIS.  While I was on a Triduum retreat, members of al-Shabab attacked students at a university in Kenya, reportedly targeting Christians.  That really felt like Good Friday news.
But we’re in the Easter season now.  Jesus is risen.  The Light continues to shine.  The news media may not always focus on that, but just look around and you will see and feel the presence of Christ.  The spring beauty of God’s creation surrounds us.  Their efforts often unheralded, Christians are still feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, visiting the elderly, showing mercy and compassion to the downtrodden.  Some are even still volunteering to go as humanitarian relief workers to dangerous, war-torn areas of the world 
Gamaliel was on the right track.  We human beings may sometimes attempt to snuff out the Light, but God will always prevail.  And that is the Easter message to which we respond, “Alleluia!”

Where do you see the Light shining in the darkness in your life?  Give thanks to the Risen Lord.

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