I thought, too, how easy it is to be “carried away” by the crowd at a football or soccer game, by a political speaker, by someone who uses our emotions to control us. I remember reading in a psychology textbook years ago that there is a different dimension to people’s behavior in a crowd – what a person will do as part of a large group is often very different than what someone would do by himself/herself. If only the crowd at Stephen’s trial had stepped away for a bit, thought about what he had said, perhaps they would have reached a different conclusion. The results for Stephen would have been different as well.
Karen and I decided to send this out early, as there is a difficult question in our “Come and See” workbook. Question 5 asks us to explain the three degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The information is in the Catechism. However, there is not enough room on that entire page in the workbook to completely answer the question. So we have a suggestion: read all of the Catechism paragraphs to which the workbook directs you. Then copy as your answer the last paragraph on page 28 which starts with “The Church recognizes three major orders…” through the end of that paragraph on page 29. Our teaching director, Jane Delaney, offered that suggestion in our facilitators meeting yesterday. Of course, you can copy all of those paragraphs from the Catechism, if you wish to do so.One of the ways in which I study Scripture is by imagining myself in the scene. This has helped me understand the motivations and actions of the characters I have read about. I was interested in the scene of Stephen’s speech to the Council in Chapter 7, verses 1 through 53. By placing myself among the crowd, listening to Stephen and then hearing the reactions of the crowd to Stephen’s words, it was easy to be “carried away” in anger at Stephen, as the crowd was. At first Stephen gives an overview of Jewish salvation history, but as he reaches his conclusion, perhaps even pointing his finger at those who were attending (verses 51 through 53), the crowd becomes angry, for Stephen has accused them of killing God’s messenger, the Messiah. That is not something the religious authorities or the common person would have wanted to hear.