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.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life. (Ps 128:1-5)
Halloween is getting closer and closer. With it, preparations are in full swing for all sorts of “fright fests”. We capitalize on fear at this time of year. Haunted Mansions and Spook Houses are set up along with a variety of other venues designed to frighten people.
Is this the kind of fear that the psalmist spoke of when the psalms were penned? I think not.
I remember, once upon a time, Bishop Grutka speaking to us as we were preparing for Confirmation. He addressed fear of the Lord. He said that there is something we fear to do more than anything else in the world: hurt the ones we love. He asked us how we felt when we did something that hurt or disappointed our parents. Then he told us to imagine that feeling multiplied many times over and directed toward God.
Fear of the Lord is not a fright that God is going to do something to us. Fear of the Lord is a grave concern that our sinfulness will hurt God, whom we love above all else.
Today’s psalm, then, makes more sense. Blessed are we who fear the Lord, who are concerned that our sinfulness will hurt our relationship with God. Being concerned, we will remain vigilant and will do all that we can to live good, holy lives.
The fruit of a good, holy life is blessing and prosperity. A good, holy life is a happy life since we have no worry about hurting our God and will, therefore, look forward to the day we are called home.
The other kind of fear, the fear that none of us wants to experience, is the fear that we often have when we live in guilt. We fear the day that God calls us to Himself because we fear that we will be cast aside, being called unworthy.
A guilty life? or a happy life?
The choice is decidedly ours. It is determined by how we live.
FAITH ACTION: Are there any amends that you need to make in your life, to others or to God? Seek the forgiveness of those you may have wronged. Seek, as well, the forgiveness of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.