Epiphany 3, Tuesday, Year B

Inspired by Acts 5:33-42 

“So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” Acts 5:38-39a (NRSV)

Humility is a virtue praised by many Christians, but practiced by few. We’re so certain of what we know to be true about God and his will that we often react with hostility towards someone who has a different interpretation than we do. We take so seriously the command to not be taken in by false teachers that we attack anyone who teaches differently than we do. Just like the Pharisees did.

The Pharisees were faithful men, trying to protect Judaism from the hostile environment in which it found itself. According to their understanding, God would never reveal himself through a poor itinerant preacher who was executed as a criminal. Anyone who taught otherwise didn’t understand God properly, and needed to be put down before they could cause fatal misunderstanding among the faithful.

But God was not limited by the Pharisees’ understanding, and he did indeed reveal himself through a poor itinerant preacher who was executed as a criminal. Neither is God limited by our understanding, and he still continues to reveal himself in surprising ways. Of course we are to carefully consider any new interpretation in order to guard against being taken in by false teachings, but we’re to do so with humility, understanding that just because we never thought of God in a certain way before doesn’t mean that such thoughts are necessarily wrong. After all, the law and the prophets had been around for centuries or millennia, understood in a certain way. Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets in a way no one expected or had anticipated, yet it was no less God’s work for all its unexpectedness. Only those with humility were able to recognize it.

Let us pray. God of wisdom, your ways are unknowable. Grant us the humility to be open to you, that we may not find ourselves fighting against you in order to defend our own ideas. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.