“Keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them” (Acts 5:38-39).
The wise words of Gamaliel are worth pondering upon today. If this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. In very simple terms, Gamaliel was saying: “No one can fight God and win.” This marked the end of the persecution of the Jewish religious authorities against the early Church.
A clear proof that the work Peter and the other disciples were doing wasn’t a mere human undertaking is this: The Church is still standing to this very day. Consider the history of the church, the internal and external attacks and you cannot but admit that no one can fight God. As Jesus puts it: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
In our Gospel passage today, we read about the feeding of the multitude by Jesus. Firstly, it is interesting to note that none of the people asked for food, but Jesus knew they were hungry and worked a miracle to feed them. Very often, we complain about our unanswered prayers forgetting that more of the time, God provides for us without us even asking.
Secondly, the feeding of multitude teaches us the miraculous power of charity. Every time they broke the bread to share for someone else, it literally multiplied. In the end, from five loaves, they had twelve baskets full of left-overs. As Anne Frank once said: “No one ever became poor by giving.”
Thirdly this miracle displays the power of God over the works of nature and everything contained in this world. As Gamaliel noted, any undertaking that is entirely human is bound to fail but when God is involved, no one can bring it down. How often and how willing am I to involve God in my daily choices and actions?
Fourthly, we learn that Jesus did not come to seek earthly power and glory but to lead us to our true home; heaven. After the miracle Jesus withdrew from the crowd perceiving that they were about to declare him King. The multitude had not seen anything like this before and they felt (in a materialistic sense) that Jesus was the answer to all they needed. They forgot that Herod Antipas was still on the throne and two kings cannot reign in the same kingdom. Note that this was exactly the fear of Herod the Great which led to the mass murder of so many male children.
The mistake of the multitude is still being made by many of us Christians today. We somehow forget that our true home is in heaven and that no matter how good we desire life on earth to be, we are forever going to be just strangers, pilgrims, passers-by. We should therefore not be too worried about fixing this broken world or about solving all our problems because the purpose of our existence is to know God, to love God and be happy with God forever in eternity. Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, deepen my confidence in you. Amen. Bible Study: Acts 5:34-42, Psalm 27 and John 6:1-15).