Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunday 13 November 2011

Blessed are Those Who Fear the Lord

    Sacred Scripture affirms that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning
of wisdom (Ps 110 [111]: 10; Prov 1:7).  However, what kind of fear does
it mean?  It certainly is not that "fear of God" which causes people to
flee from every thought and memory of him, as something or someone who
disturbs and upsets.  This was the state of mind which, according to the
Bible, made our first parents, after their sin, hide "themselves from
the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Gen 3:8).  This was also the
sentiment of that unfaithful and wicked servant of the gospel parable
who hid in the earth the talent that he received (cf. Mt 25: 28, 26).

    However, this type of fear is not the true concept of the fear which is
the gift of the Spirit.  Here it is a matter of something much more
noble and lofty; it is a sincere and reverential feeling that a person
experiences before the tremendous majesty of God, especially when he reflects
upon his own infidelity and the danger of being "found wanting" (Dan 5:27) at the
eternal judgment which no one can escape.  The believer goes and places himself
before God with a "contrite spirit" and a "humbled heart" (cf. Ps 50
[51]: 19), knowing well that he must await his own salvation "with fear and
trembling" (Phil 2:12).  Nonetheless, that does not mean an irrational fear, but a
sense of responsibility and fidelity to the law.

    All this is what the Holy Spirit takes up and elevates with the gift of
Fear of the Lord.  It certainly does not exclude the trepidation that
arises from an awareness of the faults committed and the prospect of divine
chastisement, but mitigates it with faith in the divine mercy and with
the certitude of the fatherly concern of God who wills the eternal
salvation of each one.  With this gift, however, the Holy Spirit instills in the
soul most of all a filial love which is a sentiment rooted in love of God.  The
soul is now concerned not to displease God, whom he loves as a Father, not to
offend him in anything, to "abide in him" and grow in charity (cf. Jn
15: 4-7).

                        -- Blessed John Paul II
                            Angelus, 11 June 1989

            Blessed are you who fear the Lord,
                who walk in his ways!
            For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
                blessed shall you be, and favored.
                        -- Psalm 128

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