Reflect, for a moment, on these words of Isaiah from the first reading’s opening lines. They are rich in meaning:
You, Lord, are our Father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Here we are, not entering, but in the midst already of the busiest shopping and preparation season of the year. As we rush from place to place looking for the best gifts and the best bargains, why not pause for a moment to silently repeat these words, “You, Lord, are our Father.” It could be just what I need at that moment to calm my nerves and put all my activity into perspective. It is our Father, through the Holy Spirit, who gifts His Son to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We celebrate this Gift every year at Christmas and it is the inspiration for our own gift giving. “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk. 11:13) So, ask Him! Pause for 10 seconds often during the busy activity of the day to reflect on these words, You, Lord, are our Father.
Fear of the Lord is, I believe, the most misunderstood characteristic of our Spiritual lives. It’s unfortunate since it is meant to be the most beautiful. It is cited more than 30 times in the Bible and at least a couple dozen times in the books of Sirach, Proverbs and Psalms. Think of it as the ultimate two-edged sword that cuts both ways: Fear of the Lord warms the heart, giving gladness and joy… but Fear of the Lord is an abomination to the sinner (Sirach 1:10; 22).
A healthy Fear helps me recognize God’s generosity. I can see and appreciate Him more clearly as a loving God, Our Father, who perpetually wants to share His divine life with me, but I must be in the state of Grace to receive it… with a healthy Fear. If I sin, if I separate myself from God’s love, then my heart can only see Him as a Judge who shows me my sinful ways, but, here again, it is the healthy side of Fear that leads me to seek His forgiveness and reconcile myself to Him.
When we properly recognize the glorious gift of Life that comes from God alone, and its corresponding Liberty that allows us to Pursue Happiness with freedom of Will and Intellect, then we can appreciate Isaiah’s warning:
Why do we fear you not?