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  • Sarah Raad

Rules

My Beloved – who is ALMIGHTY GOD – followed the rules for LOVE of us… What marvellous humility there is in that!

Tribute to Caesar (Bartolomeo Manfredi)

Over the last year or so, we have increasingly experienced lockdowns and restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, for those of us who live in the relatively freedom of the Western world, such restrictions were not only unprecedented, but they were shockingly unwelcome! All of a sudden, we are being told where we are allowed to go and what we are allowed to do. It is an uncomfortable feeling – necessary perhaps – but uncomfortable nonetheless…


Many of us had never experienced restrictions of this nature before, and my fervent prayer is that after this pandemic has run its course that we shall not experience such restrictions again!


I work as a tutor – not a teacher. The first and most obvious question that I am most often asked is why I am not a teacher… Why only a tutor? After all, I have natural aptitude for study – and have even tutored many students through their Bachelor and Master of Education over the years – so my ability to qualify myself as a teacher is not the thing that is restricting me.

And yet, still, I am not a teacher. Why? The answer is very simple and straightforward… I am not a teacher because I am completely unsuited for the role of a teacher…

One of my younger sisters is a teacher and she is a very very good teacher too because she is very well-suited to the role. You see that particular sister does not really mind bureaucracy and does not mind following the rules. I – on the other hand – though I follow the rules, secretly rebel against them and cannot bear mindless bureaucracy! Deep down inside I feel superior to many stupid rules that we are expected to follow in this world – and my pride is such a hinderance to just following along when it is clear that the rule is quite idiotic.


In short – though at the moment of my conversion I thought to myself, “Oh no Sarah! God is the most important thing… Why did you not become a Carmelite Nun, cloistered from the world devoting your whole life to God?” – I would have made a truly terrible nun!


When we think of teachers, we most often think of teachers as the rule-setters, and this is quite true, because everyone knows that a good teacher identifies their expectations for their class so that students know what to attain merit in the classroom.


But if you can only see that teachers set the rules, then you fail to recognise the true extent of their role. After all, teachers are the first rule-followers in a school. For teachers teach through example. If a teacher expects their class to speak respectfully, they cannot themselves speak disrespectfully, or their students will completely disregard the rule for respectful speaking altogether. Most parents understand this. Prior to my children starting in school, they did not know how to swear, because although their father and I know how to swear, we took care not to swear in front of them because this would set a bad example to them and teach them habits that would reflect badly on them and our whole family in the future.


So you see, teachers spend their days following the prescriptive rules of the school community, which are designed to create harmony within the school community. And while students can often complain about the rules, rules themselves are very important in establishing the certainty and equity required for harmonious dealings in a school community.


I have been reflecting very much over the last few days on the role of the teacher and the existence of these rules as I have said my prayers. After all, as a Catholic, there are many rules that we follow. For example, we follow the Old Testament Ten Commandments, which inspire us to avoid sin (Exodus 20:1-17). We follow the New Testament Two Commandments of Agape, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Matthew 12:30-31).


Previously I have thought of my Beloved as the Rule-Maker, but today – in a blinding flash of clarity that was surely inspired by the Holy Spirit and no merit of my own – I realise that it is not God’s rule-making that is marvellous as much as His rule-following…

After all, the people around Him called Christ, “Rabbi”. Rabbit means teacher – Christ was a teacher and as a teacher, He not only TAUGHT the rules, but He LIVED THEM too.

Think about it… Christ who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, came to Earth and prayed to His Heavenly Father (the First Person of the Holy Trinity, who is Consubstantial – meaning completely of one substance – with Him) following God’s rules given to us mere humans.


After curing the leper, Christ – who is GOD and obviously ABOVE ALL PRIESTS – said, “‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’” (Mark, 1:44). In this Christ followed the rules and asked the leper to follow them also…


Now some rules were changed – some had been corrupted by human weakness. For example, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark, 2:24-28).


But other rules, that were unfair though not religious misinterpretations of God’s Law, Christ followed and asked others to follow them also, “Then Jesus told them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’ And they marvelled at Him.” (Mark 12:17).


I hear these words as though for the first time today… And I also marvel!


For my Beloved, who is ALMIGHTY GOD, followed the rules even though He is God - or perhaps ESPECIALLY because He is God!


And He followed them FOR LOVE OF US because WE NEED THEM to be in harmony with God.


How marvellous! How utterly marvellous!


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

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