“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
– I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
– I shall fear only God.
– I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
– I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
– I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
We always hear about fear. One of the gifts of the Spirit has been called Fear of the Lord. There are other times in scripture that we have heard of people fearing God. The Angels constantly said, “Fear not!” Just what is fear all about?
I think it is important to note that fear is not the same thing as fright. So often people talk about Christianity being way off base because we encourage others to be afraid of God. We are not frightened of Him. Fear of the Lord is a healthy respect for God. Fear of the Lord means that we are afraid, not of God, but of jeopardizing our relationship with Him. It is the same as spouses or best friends who fear hurting the other’s feelings. They want their relationship, their friendship, to be a good, solid, constant one. That is why they do all that they can to avoid hurting the other.
Most of the times, when reading scripture, you can replace the word “fear” with respect, love, cherish, or honor because that is what the fear of the Lord does: it increases our respect, love, and honor of God. We are not frightened of Him. We are doing all that we can to draw ourselves closer to Him.
I think the misunderstanding of fear is one of the reasons so many people do not go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They have an actual fear of the process and of the priest. They are afraid of being judged or lectured or, even worse, not being forgiven. The sacrament, however, is a place where we go to find, not a frightening God but, a loving God. When we know that our sins hurt our Lord, the healthy fear of the Lord brings us back to Him, asking for His forgiveness and using the grace of the sacrament in an attempt to refrain from sinning.
Thus, if we fear — that is love, honor, cherish and respect — the Lord, we, like Gandhi, will strive to live as He did: we will bear no ill will, we will promote justice, and we will live in the truth. What better way to honor God than to attempt to live like His Son.
FAITH ACTION: Do you have a healthy fear of the Lord or do you live more in fright of Him? Ask Him to replace your fright with a holy fear.