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?