St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

Christmas 2018

“Do not be afraid.” “Do not be afraid.”          

That is a common refrain throughout the Scriptures. In fact it, or its equivalent, is found 15 times in the Jewish Scriptures and at least 12 times in the New Testament. I took those figures after looking up the word “afraid” in an exhaustive concordance of the Bible.[1]

Fear is the default human reaction to the presence of the divine. “Do not be afraid” was spoken to Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Again it was spoken to Mary by the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke. “Do not be afraid” was the message Joseph heard in a dream when he was considering breaking off his betrothal to Mary in Matthew’s Gospel. And we heard it today (tonight) when the birth of Jesus was announced to the shepherds.

“Do not be afraid.”

Our God comes to us not to frighten us but to give us peace; not to scare us but to invite us into a relationship. We are asked to welcome God, not to run away in fright.

Perhaps that is why Jesus entered the world not with a royal birth with the attendant riches and not as an armored warrior, but in poverty as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. Who’s afraid of a baby? Instead we greet it with smiles, wonder, and joy.

Now in time the baby grew into an adult, a noted teacher and compelling preacher, and a miracle worker. The power of God was with him because he is the Son of God.  “Do not be afraid” to follow him and his way despite the obstacles people and the world put in your way. “The upheavals in this world, or in the Church herself, are not the end of everything.”[2] God is with us, Emmanuel. Trust God. God comes not harm us but to give us hope and a future.[3]

“Do not be afraid.” “Do not be afraid.”


[1] I counted so you can rely on those figures.

[2] Page 22, He Leadeth Me, by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.,© 1973, Image, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, New York, a Penguin Random House Company.

[3] Cf. Jer. 29:11

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