April 29, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we meet Gamaliel, the revered rabbinical teacher and early mentor of St. Paul.
With his patient wisdom, Gamaliel famously intervened to save Peter and John from the Sanhedrin’s wrath.
“Fellow children of Israel,Acts 5: 35-38
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 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.”
Biblical scholars have interpreted Gamaliel’s intervention in various and even contradictory ways. Some see in him a hesitancy which will believe only that which is proven and successful. Others suggest that Gamaliel was already a believer who maintained his Sanhedrin position in order to assist the early Christians. In the Catholic canon, Gamaliel is venerated as a saint whose feastday is August 30.
Thinking about Gamaliel may lead us to the question, “What do I need in order to believe?”
- Do I, like the Sanhedrin, need to see proven success?
- Do I, like some of the crowd fed in today’s Gospel, need miracles?
- Do I, like the rich young man, need answers to all of my questions?
- Do I, like Thomas, need to see and touch the Resurrected Christ?
In other words, am I looking for a faith that is a fail-proof blueprint, or is my faith a living journey with Christ, as was Peter’s and John’s?
The Apostles’ faith and trust were so complete that they saw even persecution as evidence of God’s plan and power:
So the Apostles left the presence of the Sanhedrin,Acts 5: 41-42
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.
When we are completely given to God in faith, all our life experiences bring us closer to God. All circumstances reveal God to the deeply believing heart.
May we grow every day in that kind of faith.
Today, as we celebrate the feast of the great Saint Catherine of Siena, a reflection in place of our usual poetry.
We can learn Catherine’s spiritual wisdom. Without formal education, she grew by grace into a Doctor of the Church.
She was born Catherine Benincasa on March 25, 1347, in Siena, Italy, and was a twin, the 24th child of 25. She only lived to the age of 33, dying of a stroke in Rome in 1380. Catherine of Siena, often referred to as “great Kate,” is well known for her expressive life of prayer shared in three major sources of writings: over 400 letters, 26 prayers, and The Dialogue of Divine Providence, which she referred to as “the book,” written in the format of a conversation between herself and God. She was noted for her style of learning, not acquired from formal education and degrees, but gained from an interior wisdom that came from lived experiences and a mystical life of prayer. ( https://www.hprweb.com/2020/02/the-trinitarian-theology-of-the-eucharist-according-to-st-catherine-of-siena/)
Here are two selections from Catherine’s extensive writings which reveal her ever-deepening relationship with God through the gift of the Bread of Life.
Eternal God, Eternal Trinity, You have made the Blood of Christ so precious through His sharing in your Divine Nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for You. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When You fill my soul I have an ever-greater hunger, and I grow more famished for Your Light. I desire above all to see You, the true Light, as you really are.
St. Catherine of Siena, Prayer 12, V 124–157
And by the light of most holy faith
I shall contemplate myself in you.
And I shall clothe myself in your eternal will,
And by this light I shall come to know
That you, eternal Trinity,
And waiter for us.
You, eternal Father,
Are the table
That offers us as food
The Lamb, your only-begotten Son.
He is the most exquisite of foods for us,
Both in his teaching,
Which nourishes us in your will,
And in the sacrament
That we receive in Holy Communion,
Which feeds and strengthens us
While we are pilgrim travelers in this life.
And the Holy Spirit
Is indeed a waiter for us,
For he serves us this teaching
By enlightening our mind’s eye with it
And inspiring us to follow it.
And he serves us charity for our neighbors
And hunger to have as food
And the salvation of the whole world
For the Father’s honor
So we see that souls enlightened in you,
Never let a moment pass
Without eating this exquisite food
For your honor.
Music: Ave Verum Corpus – words attributed to 14th century Pope Innocent VI, melody to Mozart