Friday, 23rd Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

Jesus says, “No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” And Saint Paul says, “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man…” So this raises the question, who was St. Paul’s teacher?

From the book of Acts we learn that Paul ‘was thoroughly trained in the law at the feet of the Master Teacher Gamaliel, a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin respected by all the people.’ (Acts 22:3, 5:34) In fact, some of Gamaliel’s wisdom even appears in Scripture.

In the early days of the Church, the apostles were arrested and interrogated by the Sanhedrin for the signs and wonders they were doing near the temple. When they spoke out boldly about Christ, some in the council wanted to put them to death, but Gamaliel ordered the apostles to be put outside for a short time.

“Fellow Israelites,” Gamaliel said to the council, “be careful what you are about to do to these men. …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.”  The Council was persuaded by him to spare the apostles’ lives. (Notice that Gamaliel’s wisdom was in admitting the possibility that a wooden beam might be lodged in the Sanhedrin’s eyes, obscuring their vision toward the new religious movement.)

By all accounts, both Jewish and Christian, Gamaliel was a good and wise man. Some legends even say that he went on to become a Christian and a saint. So how can it be that St. Paul was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man” if he was this good man’s disciple?     The answer must be that St. Paul had not yet been fully trained by Gamaliel, for every disciple when fully trained is like his teacher.

The same could be said for us as the disciples of Christ. How can it be that we commit the acts of arrogance, the offences, and the blasphemies we do if we are Christ’s disciples? The answer must be that we have not yet been fully trained by Christ, for every disciple when fully trained is like his teacher.

So take comfort in the fact that we have not yet exhausted the wisdom which Christ has to teach us. If we do not abandon his training, the Master Teacher Christ will ‘show us the path to life, the fullness of joys in His presence, and happiness at His right hand forever.’

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