There comes to mind at this time the story of the lady who went shopping for a dress one day. Seeing a fabulous dress on display in the store window with a price tag of $75, which she really couldn’t afford, she went against her better judgement, tried it on, purchased it and took it home. That night she modeled it for her husband to show him how beautiful she looked in it. Her husband asked her how much it had cost and when she told him, he had a fit. She responded that she couldn’t resist the temptation to possess it, which prompted this response from her husband, “You should have said to the tempter, ‘Get behind me, Satan.” To which she replied, “I did, I did, but Satan said, ‘You look pretty good from behind too.’”
This last quote may not make it to print in some pious publications, but it serves to highlight what happens when people are lured into turning their backs on the truth and going against their better judgements as well as their informed consciences. Now this script is not about a dress code, though it would frown on saggy pants on the street as well as thongs on the beach. God spare our eyes! We need not be so cheeky. It is more about the lure of power and prestige. It is about business transactions and politics, about the secular and religious.
Here in Kalaupapa we are not much concerned about dress or outward appearance. When it is time to go to work, we dress accordingly, and when it is time for Sacred worship, we dress appropriately, if not lavishly or gaudily. I don’t believe that we have workers here who are about to submit to the lure of power or prestige. They would appear to be dedicated to their particular roles in support of the mission of Kalaupapa of caring for the Hansen’s Disease patients in this settlement.
There is another story going around about a woman, also shopping for a dress, who sees a lovely dress in the display window. She asks the manager of the store, “Could I please try on that beautiful dress in the window?” He responds, “Oh no, Madam. You will have to try it on in our changing room.” There is the right way and the not so right way and then there is the Lord’s way Who says, “Get behind Me, Satan!”
Anchor columnist Father Patrick Killilea, SS.CC., is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.