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  • Sarah Raad

Rabbi

“Do not be afraid.”

Jesus Christ Portrait (Heinrich Hofmann)

I read a beautiful reflection by a priest who I do not know the other day. In that reflection, the beautiful priest wrote that over 300 times in the Bible, a specific phrase is repeated. That phrase is… “Do not be afraid.”


I have been reflecting on this previously unknown-to-me fact over the last few days.


I am a teacher who has been teaching school and university students for over 20 years now. And when I say teaching for over 20 years, I only consider the paid work that I have undertaken as a teacher. That does not count all the years before, when my poor innocent younger siblings and classmates bore the brunt of my teaching.


As a teacher, there are certain phrases that are repeated year after year, module after module, because there are certain things that must be reiterated in a variety of circumstances.


Over the years as I have taught my students, I have repeated those certain phrases so many times that I have lost track of the actual number of times I have said them.


However, the secret to good teaching – the difference between a GOOD teacher and a BAD teacher, in fact, in my opinion – is to ensure that each time the teacher repeats those certain phrases, no matter how familiar they are, they must be repeated enthusiastically and dynamically.


The MOST important part of teaching, in my opinion, is that the teacher infuses the same amount of enthusiasm into those repeated phrases as if they were speaking them for the very first time.


Often my students ask me how it is that I can remember the very phrases that I repeat most often, and my reply is invariable... I can remember those phrases, because I have repeated them so often that they are entrenched in my mind.


And yet, I take it as a wonderful complement if my students hear these phrases and notice the dynamism of my delivery of them…

Because it is the phrases that we repeat the most, which are most important for our students to understand.

And so, when I look at this repeated phrase in the Bible – “Do not be afraid.” – I am struck, perhaps through my own experience as a teacher, by the dynamic presentation of the words.


They are spoken in the Old Testament… “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8), and… “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).


And they are spoken in the New Testament by angels… “…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” (Matthew 1:20).


And by Christ during his public ministry… “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).


And afterwards, they are spoken by His disciples after Christ’s death and resurrection… “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (Revelation 2:10).


They called Christ RABBI – TEACHER. And what a wonderful teacher He is!


DO NOT BE AFRAID…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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