24 April, 2020

… [F]or if this plan or this undertaking is of [men and women], it will fail; but if it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!

~ Acts 5:38-39 ~

We don’t like change. We are a lot like those characters in the first reading. New doctrines, new teaching, new ways of doing things – we’ll have none of that! And because it’s new it must be evil. Just like the disciples in the Gospel, we automatically imagine we might do all the tried and tested things – there is no space in our lives for the new, the miraculous.


Confronted with something new, we may at best marvel – as the people did with the miracle of the loaves and fishes – or we become like the majority of the council, and shout ‘Heresy!’ even louder.


In doing so, how often do we miss the opportunity a new situation, a Kairos offers us.


Gamaliel’s mind-set is different. He is ready to trust that the disciples’ enthusiastic proclamation should be tolerated. He knows that naïve enthusiasms last a short time – but that what comes from God lasts, and may indeed be unstoppable.


Great entrepreneurs understand Gamaliel. So do masters of military strategy and politicians. In the Church, less so. Across the traditions, the temptation is to fear and oppose innovation, even in times (like today) when our normal practices no longer seem to work. The global crisis has paralysed such practices. Can we imagine new ways of proclaiming to Resurrection in a world that will never be the same after COVID-19? And do we as Church welcome such new ways, allowing the time to see if they are ‘of God’ or not, or do we sink back into old ways? Even if such ways lead to further paralysis?


It’s a risk. But our Christian faith started, amidst total failure, on a risk: Resurrection. God’s risk. The disciple’s risk.  Do we dare to risk?



Loving God, Grant in us the spirit of your servant Gamaliel, who embraced the readiness to risk, who was open to the possibility that you spoke in a new way through the disciples. May we as your Church, filled with the Spirit, be ready to risk in new ways, to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection. Amen


Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

Reflection prepared by

Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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