In Our Continuing Series--The


In Our Continuing Series--The Wisdom of Fear

Another excerpt from the Holy Father in which he talks about "the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom." Read the full text here.

from Crossing the Threshhold of Hope "Be Not Afraid" His Holiness John Paul II The Holy Scriptures contain an insistent exhortation to cultivate the fear of God. We are speaking here of that fear which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Among the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, indicated in the words of Isaiah (cf. Is 11:2), fear of God is listed last, but that does not mean it is the least significant, since it is precisely fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom. And among the gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom holds first place. Therefore, we need to pray that people everywhere and especially people in our own time will receive the fear of God.

From the Holy Scriptures we also know that this fear-the origin of wisdom-has nothing in common with the fear of a slave. It is filial fear, not servile fear! The Hegelian paradigm of master-slave is foreign to the Gospel. It is a paradigm drawn from a world in which God is absent. In a world in which God is truly present, in the world of divine wisdom, only filial fear can be present.

The authentic and full expression of this fear is Christ Himself. Christ wants us to have fear of all that is an offense against God. He wants this because He has come into the world in order to set man free for freedom. Man is set free through love, because love is the source par excellence of all that is good. This love, according to the words of Saint John, drives out all fear (cf. 1 Jn 4:18). Every sign of servile fear vanishes before the awesome power of the All-powerful and all-present One. Its place is taken by filial concern, in order that God's will be done on earth-that will which is the good that has in Him its origin and its ultimate fulfillment.

"Every sign of servile fear vanishes" and "its place is taken by filial concern." For some reason I find this unbelievably lovely. There is a profound beauty in a child growing from seeing Dad as disciplinarian to seeing Dad as a loving and concerned member of the family group. We experience this transition as we grow in prayer. We may start our religious lives with a healthy fear of Hell, but a mature faith is driven by the desire to please Abba (Papa, but not the Pope). We are still children, but our faith can grow from fear or indifference to a dynamic, passionate love wherein all is for Christ. This is a goal of prayer and a good prayer life and it should be the goal of each person who strives to increase the capacity of faith. Fall in back into filial love with your Father. Spend time with Him, let Him teach you through the example of His Son and the leadings of His Holy Spirit. Isn't this truly "The Beginning of Wisdom?"

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 30, 2002 8:52 AM.

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