"This is the fear of God: abandonment into the goodness of our Father who loves us so"
THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.
The gift of the fear of God, of which we speak today, concludes the series of seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It does not mean to be afraid of God: we know well that God is Father, and that He loves us and wants our salvation, and He always forgives, always, so that there is no reason to be afraid of Him! The fear of God, instead, is the gift of the Spirit that reminds us how little we are before God and His love, and that our good lies in abandoning ourselves with humility, with respect and with trust into His hands. This is the fear of God: abandonment into the goodness of our Father who loves us so.
1. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our heart, he infuses in us consolation and peace, and leads us to see ourselves as we are, namely, little, with the attitude – so recommended by Jesus in the Gospel – of one who entrusts all is preoccupations and expectations to God and feels enveloped and sustained by His warmth and His protection, in fact, as a child with his Daddy! This is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts: He makes us feel like children in the arms of our Daddy. In this connection, then, we understand well how the fear of God assumes in us the form of docility, of gratitude and praise, filling our heart with hope. Often, in fact, we fail to grasp God’s design, and we are aware that we are not capable of ensuring happiness and eternal life for ourselves. It is, in fact, in the experience of our limitations and of our poverty, however, that the Spirit confronts us and makes us perceive how the only important thing is to let ourselves be led by Jesus into his Father’s arms.
2. See why we are in such great need of this gift of the Holy Spirit. Fear of God makes us aware that everything comes from grace and that our real strength lies only in following the Lord Jesus and allowing the Father to pour His goodness and mercy on us. We must open our heart so that God’s goodness and mercy will come to us. The Holy Spirit does this with the gift of the fear of God: He opens hearts. An open heart so that the Father’s forgiveness, mercy, goodness, and caresses come to us, because we are infinitely loved children.
3. When we are permeated by the fear of God, then we are led to follow the Lord with humility, docility and obedience. This, however, not with a resigned, passive even mournful attitude, but with the wonder and joy of a child who sees himself served and loved by his Father. Hence, the fear of God does not make us timid, compliant Christians,but it generates in us courage and strength! It is a gift that makes us convinced, enthusiastic Christians, who are not subjected to the Lord out of fear, but because we are moved and conquered by His love! To be conquered by the love of God! And this is something lovely. To let ourselves be conquered by this Daddy’s love, who so loves us, who loves us with His whole heart.
However, we must be careful, because this gift of God, the gift of the fear of God is also an “alarm” in face of the tenaciousness of sin. When a person lives in evil, when he blasphemes against God, when he exploits others, when he tyrannizes them, when he lives only for money, for vanity or power or pride, then the holy fear of God puts us on alert: be careful! With all this power, with all this money, with all your pride, with all your vanity, you will not be happy. No one can take with him to the other side money, or power, or vanity or pride. Nothing! We can only take the love that God the Father gives us, God’s caresses, accepted and received by us with love. And we can take what we have done for others. Be careful not to put your hope in money, in pride, in power, in vanity, because all this cannot promise us anything good! I am thinking, for instance, of persons who have responsibility over others and who allow themselves to be corrupted; do you think a corrupt person will be happy on the other side? No, all the fruit of his corruption has corrupted his heart and it will be difficult for him to go to the Lord. I am thinking of those who live from the traffic of persons and of slave labor; do you think that these people who traffic in persons, who exploit people with slave labor have the love of God in their heart? No, they do not have the fear of God and they are not happy.
They are not. I am thinking of those who manufacture arms to foment wars, but think what an occupation this is. I am sure that if I now ask the question: how many of you are manufacturers of arms? No one, no one. Manufacturers of arms do not come to hear the Word of God. They manufacture death, they are merchants of death and make death merchandise. May the fear of God make them understand that one day everything will end and they will have to render an account to God.
Dear friends, Psalm 34 makes us pray thus: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (vv. 7-8).
Let us ask the Lord for the grace to unite our voice to that of the poor, to receive the gift of fear of God and to be able to recognize ourselves, together with them, clothed with the mercy and love of God, who is our Father, our Daddy. So be it.