The apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council, to be questioned for why they continued to teach in “that name.” At hearing the apostles’ answers, the Jewish leaders “became infuriated and wanted to put them to death,” but a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin stood up and had the apostles put outside. This was Gamaliel, a great teacher of the law who was respected by all the people. (It was at this rabbi’s feet that St. Paul received his Pharisaical training.)
Gamaliel said, “Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men.” Now his form of address here is interesting and revealing. He could have addressed his peers in the Sanhedrin in many different ways, but by calling them “fellow children of Israel” he recalls Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel) and his twelve sons.
Now of all those sons, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite. This made the others so jealous that they sold Joseph into slavery. But through suffering this dishonor Joseph would go on to become the instrument of their salvation. Even though they meant to destroy him, they failed. God intended this for good, to achieve the salvation of many.
Gamaliel concluded his speech to the Sanhedrin wisely observing, “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…”
Evil endeavors or activities are destroyed in time. But what is of God endures, even if it is sometimes setback by evil and sins. In these beleaguering times, for our country, for our Church, and for our pope, this lesson from Rabbi Gamaliel gives us good reason for hope.