In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus begins with the comforting word: “Do not
be afraid!” Elsewhere, he has told us not to be afraid in the middle of
a raging storm, or in the dark of night, or when he confronts us like a
ghost after resurrection.
In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. For centuries they had been tolerated there, and their labor had helped to build a great country. But King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, anxious to establish their hold over a newly united Spain by means of the Catholic Church and the Inquisition, gave the Jews a stark choice: they must be baptized or flee.