In today’s first reading, Stephen, newly elected to the ranks of the disciples is coming face to face with the harsh reality of undermining authority. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Stephen’s words and works threaten the current ways of the scribes and elders. In the next chapter of the book of Acts, Stephen will demand those in authority acknowledge their participation in the murder and betrayal of Jesus. Stephen will be stoned to death for denouncing the status quo and questioning those in power.
If you believe in the One God sent, what traditional ideas are you willing to shake?
I graduated from an all-girl, Catholic high school in the 90’s. Before the first day of each school year, each student was required to read that year’s student handbook. Each year a chapter was dedicated to the school’s uniform. Rules designed to encourage modesty and the importance of the student’s outward appearance dictated the length of the hem of the skirt and the importance of tucking in one’s shirt tail. These rules introduced the concept that each student’s appearance reflected pride not only in the individual student but also in the school. Uniform infractions were routinely and severely enforced. The wearing of unsanctioned socks or the rolling of one’s skirt at the waist often resulted in an extra hour before school contemplating the error of one’s ways in detention.
During my junior year, a student was requested to withdraw from school as her swollen belly, obviously with child, could no longer accommodate the standard uniform. Thankfully just a few short years later, the school was willing to make exceptions to the rigidity of this class of rules to accommodate a greater good. Certainly there were some who would have preferred to continue to sanction the school rules enforcing the uniform. Certainly there were some who would have preferred to believe that Catholic high school students did not engage in practices that made certain natural consequences possible. I imagine some would have preferred to quietly ignore the underlying clash of the pretty phrase "sanctity of life" against the harsh reality that follows if this phrase is taken seriously: that without caring for the needs of the mother and the growing child both within and out of the womb the phrase becomes meaningless.
If you believe in the One God sent, what traditional ideas/practices/beliefs are you willing to denounce no matter what the cost?
Nellie Draus-Stallings is a member of St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.